Ex-Assistant Principal To Stand Trial Over Sex Charges

Kettrell Berry Charged With Rape With A Foreign Object, Other Sex Charges

A former assistant principal at a Kearny Mesa school for troubled children was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on 13 felony charges for allegedly carrying on a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student over several months.

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Kettrell Berry, 49, faces more than 11 years in prison if convicted.

After a daylong preliminary hearing, Judge Frederic Link ruled that enough evidence was presented for Berry to proceed to trial on charges of rape with a foreign object, unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, lewd act on a child and oral copulation of a person under 18.

A Superior Court arraignment was scheduled for Sept. 6.

The alleged victim, identified in court as Elizabeth, testified that she established a bond with the defendant soon after arriving at the San Diego Center for Children last December.

She said Berry would counsel her, meet her after school and listen to her problems. The girl said she and Berry began hugging at the end of meetings and the relationship turned sexual.

Prosecutor Renee Palermo asked the girl why she confided in Berry.

"He was straight-up," the teen testified. "He wouldn't sugar-coat things. He would tell it like it is."

During one hug in the corner of a room, Berry ran his hands down her back and caressed her buttocks, the girl testified.

She said she started to develop feelings for the defendant and the two kissed after another hug.

On another occasion, the girl said Berry touched her chest from behind and said, "If we start this, we can't go back."

The girl said Berry asked her to be his girlfriend, and she eventually said yes.

She said they had sex in a utility closet in his office in March, saying she wasn't worried about getting pregnant because Berry told her he had undergone a vasectomy.

Another time, Elizabeth said Berry came to her room on campus, offering to help her with math, and the two went to a classroom where they had sex. Berry thought he heard someone coming and gave her a book to make it look like she was studying, she testified.

On April 12, the teen said Berry shut the door to an art room and they had sex again.

"He said, 'You're my woman. You understand that?'" she testified, saying she answered yes.

A staff member noticed Berry and the girl go into the unlit room and reported the incident.

Berry was fired after working at the school for nine years.

Elizabeth told a therapist of the alleged ongoing sexual relationship and has since left the school.

Berry's attorney, James Pokorny, told the judge that the teen "despises" his client and would do anything to punish him for what happened.

The defendant remains free on $150,000 bail and was ordered to stay away from the alleged victim.

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