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Lawsuit filed to reverse CPRA lawsuit filed by suspect child molester – The Vacaville Reporter | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


In an attempt to reverse the release of public records, The First Amendment Coalition (FAC) has filed a reverse California Public Records Act (CPRA) lawsuit to intervene in Shelton v. Napa Valley Unified School District regarding a former public school teacher’s alleged sexual abuse of students.

Matthew Joseph Shelton, the defendant in the case and a former public school teacher who was previously charged with sexual misconduct while working in the Napa Valley Unified ASchool District and is currently facing similar charges from his time teaching for Benicia Unified School District and also has three lawsuits pending in Solano County that also include sexual misconduct allegations involving six young female students. He brought a reverse CPRA lawsuit against both school districts to prevent them releasing documents responsive to a CPRA request filed by reporter Holly McDede, according to a release issued by The First Amendment Coalition.

These types of lawsuits seek to prevent a government agency from releasing records in response to a CPRA request and reverse CPRA lawsuits are often brought by the subject of the records that are sought.

FAC represents McDede, who had previously written about Shelton’s case for the Vallejo Sun and covers sexual misconduct in schools. She made CPRA requests for records of Shelton’s misconduct, employment records, any separation or settlement agreements, and other documents from both the Napa Valley and Benicia school districts but before either district released all records sought by McDede, Shelton filed the reverse CPRA lawsuit, and a temporary order directed the districts to withhold the records until the case is considered.

“Few things are more important to a community than keeping children safe,” said McDede. “The people in these communities have a right to know what the Benicia school district knew about Shelton’s past when he was hired, and any steps the district did or did not take to protect students.”

Misdemeanor sexual abuse charges involving four of his students had previously been filed against Shelton in Napa when he was working as a third-grade teacher at Phillips Edison Elementary School in April 2007. After a 6-day jury trial in 2008, however, he was acquitted of six counts of child molestation because, according to reports at the time of the trial, three girls testified and Shelton’s attorney argued that their stories were fabricated and inconsistent with one another.

These types of lawsuits seek to prevent a government agency from releasing records in response to a CPRA request. Reverse CPRA lawsuits are often brought by the subject of the records being sought.

FAC represents McDede, who had previously written about Shelton’s case for the Vallejo Sun and covers sexual misconduct in schools. She made CPRA requests for records of Shelton’s misconduct, employment records, any separation or settlement agreements, and other documents from both the Napa Valley and Benicia districts. Before either district released all records sought by McDede, Shelton filed the reverse CPRA lawsuit, and a temporary order directed the districts to withhold the records until the case is considered.

“Few things are more important to a community than keeping children safe,” said McDede. “The people in these communities have a right to know what the Benicia school district knew about Shelton’s past when he was hired, and any steps the district did or did not take to protect students.”

Misdemeanor sexual abuse charges involving four of his students had previously been filed against Shelton in Napa when he was working as a third-grade teacher at Phillips Edison Elementary School in April 2007. After a six-day jury trial in 2008, however, he was acquitted of six counts of child molestation because, according to reports at the time of the trial, three girls testified and Shelton’s attorney argued that their stories were fabricated and inconsistent with one another.

In Solano County, Shelton has been charged with seven felony counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14. He is scheduled to appear in Department 15 of Solano County Superior at 9 a.m. July 2 for a preliminary hearing setting in the Justice Building in Vallejo.

The next civil litigation hearing, a case management conference, is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 15 in Department 3 in the Hall of Justice in Fairfield.



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