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Prosecutor says testimony of victims crucial to outcome

By Jim Shilander

Former Shorecliffs Middle School teacher Richard Rack pleaded guilty Monday to four felony counts of sexual assault against one student and performing lewd acts on two others.

Rack’s jury trial in the case began last week. The prosecution officially rested its case Thursday. The defense was scheduled to begin its presentation Monday, but Rack’s plea put an end to the trial.

Shorecliffs Middle School math teacher, Richard Rack, 51, pleaded guilty Monday on four charges. Photo courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff's Department
Shorecliffs Middle School math teacher, Richard Rack, 51, pleaded guilty Monday on four charges. Photo courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department

With the guilty plea, Rack, 51, faces up to 10 years in state prison and will have his name on the National Sex Offender Registry for the rest of his life. A sentence hearing has been scheduled for October 18 at 8:30 a.m. at which point the victims and their families may speak, as can Rack.

Deputy District Attorney Vanessa Woods, who prosecuted the case, said the testimony of all three victims, as well as other girls who came forward to testify on other incidents, were vital to the outcome.

“I believe their testimony was crucial, and I believe their testimony was truthful,” Woods said.

It became clear, based on the testimony of the victims and others, Woods said, that Rack had exploited his position.

“As a teacher, you’re in a trusted position, and he took advantage of that position,” Woods said.

Woods said there was no deal in exchange for Rack’s plea. Rack pleaded guilty to two felony counts of lewd acts on a child age 14 or 15, one count of lascivious acts on a minor under 14 and one count of oral copulation of a minor under 16.

Marcus Walton, chief communications officer for the Capistrano Unified School District echoed the comments from Woods.

“It is clear that Mr. Rack violated the trust of this community, our parents, and most importantly his students,” Walton said. “While the District is unable to discuss the situation with Mr. Rack in detail, parents and community members should know that when accusations of this sort are brought to our attention, the District takes immediate action to remove the accused person from contact with students and turns the matter over to law enforcement. We encourage anyone who witnesses inappropriate behavior to immediately contact a school administrator or law enforcement.”

Rack, who had taught at the school since 2002, originally faced eight counts, but four were dropped.

Rack was arrested last year following accusations from two students at Shorecliffs. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department initiated an investigation after a student told the school’s principal about Rack having made lewd comments and hugging her and another student, authorities said. After his arrest, the investigation uncovered additional charges related to a relationship with a third student between February 2009 and October 2010, the Orange County District Attorney’s office said. The investigation uncovered that Rack sexually assaulted the student, through lewd touching and oral copulation, authorities said.

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comments (4)

  • hope you rot rack

  • My wife was on the jury and told me about the testimony of the victims after he plead guilty. This guy deserves more than 10 years. He knew he was guilty, but still forced the victims to testify in public court before he realized he had no chance of acquittal.
    This selfish head case deserves 10 year for each victim, not 10 for the whole incident.
    I hope the judge has kids and remembers it’s up to the adults to protect our kids from this abomination.
    Don’t throw the book at him. Beat him senseless with it.
    I wonder how much sex he will have in prison. I’m sure all his fellow convicts with kids on the outside will have something to say about that.

    • As a mom of one of the victims, I echo your comments. These girls have been through hell with being questioned for the last two years by police, waiting for the trial to start,(which was supposed to be LAST June)and then testifying in open court with Rack sitting right there. At least he will be in prison for a good long time and a lifetime registered sex offender…although the sentence should be much longer. Please thank your wife for her service from our family.

  • I’m now almost 23 and had mr rack in 7th grade as a teacher. He made sexual comments all the way back then and the principle refused to listen to me and at least four other girls. The principle said I was not allowed out of his class no matter what. Rack has been guilty of this longer than any of you know. He deserves a way harsher punish and all his victims deserve an apology. I have had hate for him since then and I am so thankful that he is finally getting what he deserves.

comments (4)

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