A motion by a lawyer for former Lorbeer Middle School teacher Steven Andrews to get the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office removed from trying his case fell flat Monday.
Paul Potter, who represents Andrews, filed the motion for recusal and argued that he felt there was bias because an employee with the District Attorney’s office is a close relative of the victim.
Andrews, 42, has been accused of committing lewd acts against a 14-year-old student. He appeared in court Monday.
Potter also argued that his client was being discriminated against related to the proposed plea deal, citing three cases in neighboring cities in which the defendants were offered far less time for similar allegations.
The District Attorney has offered Andrews a 10-year plea deal.
“They all involve age disparities similar to our own or greater,” Potter said of other cases. “All involve people who are in a position of trust. All involve fact patterns that are extremely similar to our own, yet the proposed settlements are way, way different.”
Charles Lee, with the state Attorney General’s office, said one of the cases Potter named had six counts, while Andrews faces 17.
Prosecutor Debra Scott said the evidence against Andrews, which reportedly includes a phone call in which the defendant admits an ongoing relationship, is very strong.
“The victim in this case was very specific to dates, types of sex acts,” she said. “We have much more detail as to dates and instances, and as such, we’re able to have more counts.”
Andrews surrendered to Walnut/Diamond Bar Sheriff’s Station deputies on Sept. 30, 2011. A few days later, the District Attorney’s office filed 17 charges against him, including six counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object, six counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a child, two counts of oral copulation with a child under 16, and three counts of lewd acts on a child.
Andrews pleaded not guilty last November.
Judge Steven Blades said the prosecution has no obligation to offer Andrews a plea deal. He said removing an entire prosecutor’s office would take some serious evidence of wrongdoing.
“I’m not persuaded that there is an impropriety or even the appearance of impropriety by the District Attorney’s office,” he said.
The trial was expected to start this week, but was pushed back to give the defense time to review new evidence in the case. Andrews will return to court Nov. 30 for a trial readiness hearing. The trial is expected to start Dec. 1.