Eric von Metzke, a long-time teacher at the San Diego Junior Theatre, was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison. On May 12, he pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor more than three years younger than he (he just turned 36). He also pleaded guilty to oral copulation with a person under 18 years of age. She is a Jane Doe.
"All indications are that the alleged victim was a Junior Theatre student, although as yet I don't have confirmation of that," says attorney Matt Valenti, who is leading a group of parents, attendees, and others who are concerned about possible financial irregularities, moral and ethical misbehavior, and a coverup by the board of Junior Theatre.
This may be the culmination of months of controversy and internal rancor at Balboa Park's Junior Theatre, as reported at length in the Reader.
Valenti prepared a 110-page complaint that he sent to the district attorney, mayor, and council. On page 60 and 61 are eye-opening references to possible misbehavior. Valenti refers to a teenage "sleepover party" in which several teens were photographed in bed together. According to the report, a female teacher left the organization in 2013 after allegations that she had a relationship with a 16-year-old Junior Theatre boy. They had allegedly gone to Disneyland together and spent the night in a hotel there, according to the report. The female was either allowed to resign or terminated by Jimmy Saba, general director, the report alleges.
In January of 2016 a staff member was terminated, allegedly because of an inappropriate relationship with one or more teenage students, according to the report.
A major ruckus was caused when Saba charged unannounced into the girls' changing room and shook a young girl by the shoulders, scolding her for mocking him. Two other key staffers are believed to have reported the incident to the board. Those staffers were fired mysteriously, as described in Valenti's report.
"Once again, Saba and the board apparently covered up child abuse allegations," and failed to call law enforcement, says Valenti.