School secretary arrested for assaulting niece’s romantic rival
March 11, 2010
A San Miguel school secretary and two of her family members have been arrested for allegedly assaulting a pregnant teen in front of the victim’s two-year-old son, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department said.
All three defendants in the case, stemming from an incident last September, have pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of battery and force and violence against 18-year-old Julia Savage.
The three are facing trial next month in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.
In the wake of the dismissal of the San Miguel school Supt. Dean Smith for an inappropriate relationship with a former student, the arrest of the three, two of them are public school employees in San Miguel, has raised concerns over the treatment of students there.
On Sept. 10, Savage was leaving the Mission Market and Deli in San Miguel with her two-year-old son when a silver four-door BMW pulled in behind the pregnant woman’s car, blocking it in.
Lillian Larsen Elementary School secretary Jo Anna Rojas, 42, along with daughter Jessica Rojas, 18, and niece Nicole Rojas, 23, approached Savage and demanded an apology for an earlier school-ground spray painting incident for which Savage was convicted, according to a sheriff’s report.
Savage refused to apologize and asked the trio to leave her alone because she was pregnant. According to the report, Rojas told Savage, “Well, I’ll hit you in the face. Your face isn’t pregnant.”
Then, the three began hitting Savage about the head, deputies said.
Deputy Michael Norris said that Jo Anna Rojas admitted grabbing Savage’s hair, though she claimed it was an act of self defense. One sheriff’s deputy at the scene said Jo Anne Rojas told him she was adamant about obtaining an apology from Savage even after the altercation.
Deputies then interviewed daughter Jessica Rojas, who originally claimed she had not participated in the assault. However, after the deputy informed her that the entire incident may have been caught by the market’s video cameras, she admitted to hitting Savage.
Jessica Rojas, who works with children in Lillian Larsen’s after-school program, told deputies the altercation “was a blur,” the report said.
The deputies said they then interviewed niece Nicole Rojas, who also admitted to hitting the victim after discovering they had been video taped.
A month earlier, on Aug. 3, Jo Anne Rojas reported to sheriff’s deputies that she suspected Savage was responsible for writing on a graffiti-covered wall on the south side of the elementary school’s cafeteria, claiming that her niece was “a fat #*&*#.” The deputies also discovered that someone had used the same yellow spray paint to mark up one side of Jo Anne Rojas’ BMW.
Nicole Rojas told the deputies that Savage was upset because the pregnant woman’s ex-boyfriend was dating her.
Deputies said they discovered Savage at her home with a large amount of yellow paint marking her hands. San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Martin Tangeman sentenced Savage to 30 days in the county jail for that incident.
Despite repeated calls from CalCoastNews, Jo Anna Rojas declined to comment on the altercation other than to say that it was not a newsworthy issue.
The jury and the court will not get an opportunity to view the incident because of an error that occurred while a deputy at the scene was attempting to download the tape onto a disk.
Only two minutes of the incident, prior to the reported assault, were captured by the deputy’s thumb drive.