A former staff member of a Christian private school in Tuolumne accused of sexually abusing female students in the 1990s did not enter a plea Friday morning at the Tuolumne County Superior Court.
It was the first court appearance for Mona McGrady, a former coach and physical education teacher at Mother Lode Christian School, since she was charged this month on suspicion of 13 counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child 14 or 15 years old and one count of sexual penetration with a foreign object of a person under 18 years of age, which allegedly occurred against female students while she was employed with the school.
McGrady, 61, was silent during the hearing while standing beside her attorney, Clint Parish of Sonora.
Parish said he was still awaiting discovery documents from the Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office before his client officially entered a plea.
After the hearing Parish said his client denied the charges detailed in the seven-page affidavit filed with the court on May 16.
Parish declined to comment further on the allegations in the court record, which detailed 14 separate incidents in Tuolumne and Stanislaus counties where the victim — then an underage minor — was reportedly molested or sexually abused by McGrady. All the alleged incidents were said to have occurred from Jan. 24, 1994 to Jan. 24 1997.
“[Confidential Victim 1] indicated that in the beginning it wouldn’t necessarily be inappropriate for Mona to touch CV1’s leg, shoulder, hand, or arm during prayers or massages in Mona’s office. When CV1 got older, the touching would escalate and get more intense,” the affidavit said.
The affidavit is a synopsis of a 207 page report report prepared by Tuolumne County Sheriff’s detective Scott Meyer after an interview with the primary victim on Jan. 30 and subsequent interviews with others.
Two of the earliest incidents allegedly occurred when the victim was 14 at a cabin in Pinecrest, according to the criminal complaint.
The affidavit said the teen was with Mona on a covered porch after an “emotional day” at Pinecrest, described as a location for school retreats, gatherings, prayer and team-bonding activities.
The affidavit said McGrady often showed affection to the victim, by holding or cuddling her, but in this situation, the victim claimed the affection turned sexual.
“When it started, they both had their clothes on, but by the end of it, Mona definitely had her pants off,” the document said.
The document said she was initially unable to recall when the incident occurred, but later said they occurred when she was 14.
The incidents centered on sporting events the victim participated in, as well as at homes during youth religious conferences outside of the county.
The victim said the sex acts began to occur weekly while she was 16 and 17 years old.
Five incidents were alleged to have occurred when the victim was 15 years old “at a school office during volleyball season.”
Two incidents allegedly occurred at McGrady’s house, two at the “Acquire the Fire” youth religious conference in Modesto and one in a school office during basketball season while the victim was also 15. One other incident occurred at the victim’s house when she was 15.
Another incident was alleged to have happened at a hotel in Modesto when the victim was 17.
According to the affidavit, the victim stopped McGrady in the act and told her she did not like what she was doing. The incident allegedly occurred at a motel in Modesto during a basketball tournament at Modesto Christian School.
According to the complaint, the confidential victim made the report to law enforcement on Dec. 3, 2018.
The affidavit also includes corroborating statements from victims and witnesses who described McGrady as a mentor to the young girls, often exchanging advice and written statements in the girls’ personal journals.
According to another victim who could not press charges because it was beyond the statute of limitations, McGrady paid “special attention to a small number of girls” which included the confidential victim the case was predicated on.
Another woman reported abuse in 2001 to a Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office deputy, but charges were not filed, the affidavit said. California law dictates that charges must be filed within one year of a report being made to supercede the statute of limitations.
She described similar sexual experiences as her friend around the same time period.
The only remaining documents from the 2001 investigation included a booking sheet, the deputy’s report describing the allegations and a request that the woman’s journal be returned to her.
The classmate who is named in the affidavit said she was not a victim of any sexual touching, but said she observed “unusual behaviors” from McGrady.
The classmate said she exchanged journals with McGrady when she was 11 or 12 years old, and knew her as a coach, Bible teacher and a worship leader at the Chapel in the Pines church.
The classmate described one incident while sitting in McGrady’s office at Mother Lode Christian School — known to the classmate as “the cave” because it was located underneath the stairs with a couch, a desk and a filing cabinet — when McGrady allegedly placed her hand on the first confidential victim’s upper thigh during a prayer.
According to the classmate, McGrady also would lock the door when the two victims were in her office.
According to Union Democrat records, McGrady was cited as Mother Lode Christian School’s physical education teacher in 1993, and in 1994, as a science teacher at an unspecified school and a married mother of three.
In 1997, she is identified multiple times as the Mother Lode Christian School girl’s basketball coach.
According to a Sheriff’s Office press release, McGrady resigned from the school almost two decades ago. Authorities did not know the exact date or the circumstances.
Vic Conner, director of the Silver Spur Christian Camp & Retreat Center in Tuolumne, said McGrady was once an employee there, but did not know when she left.
McGrady turned herself in to the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office on May 21 for a warrant that had been filed against her on May 16.
Her bail was set at $100,000 and she bonded out the same day.
On Tuolumne County Jail booking logs, she is described as a contractor.
McGrady arrived at the courtroom on Friday with a male companion only minutes before her hearing at about 10:30 a.m. She left the court with approximately a half dozen people who had sat in the courtroom since 8:45 a.m.
Assistant District Attorney Eric Hovatter said he could provide the necessary documents to Parish by the beginning of next week.
Judge James A. Boscoe scheduled an arraignment hearing for June 21 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 2 of the Tuolumne County Superior Court.
The District Attorney’s Office press release stated McGrady faces up to 11 years and eight months in state prison if convicted on all charges.