A Napa man who was a teacher in a local private school faces multiple sex charges in Napa County Superior Court in connection with an alleged incident in September 2010 involving a 15-year-old girl, according to court documents.
Michael Copithorne, 36, has been charged with oral copulation with a person under the age of 16 and three counts of lewd acts upon a child with special allegation, court records show.
He was a teacher at Napa Christian, a K-12 Seventh-day Adventist school in Napa when the arrest warrant was issued in February, court documents indicate.
Copithorne was charged in June and pleaded not guilty to all the charges on July 5. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Friday, though court records indicate the session may be continued. A pre-preliminary hearing is scheduled for today.
According to police, Copithorne is suspected of picking up the 15-year-old girl near her house last September and driving her to the parking lot of a Napa grocery store, where he supposedly kissed the alleged victim and performed sex acts on her.
Deputy District Attorney Allison Haley declined to give details about the case, including whether the alleged victim was a student at his school. She would not say whether additional alleged victims are suspected.
It is unclear if Copithorne, a teacher at Napa Christian for more than 11 years, remains on staff. The school referred questions Wednesday to Albert Miller, Northern California Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists, who could not be reached for immediate comment.
Copithorne, a paraplegic from a 2000 snowboarding accident at Mammoth Mountain, also owns a fly fishing trip business “Off the Hook LLC,” court documents show.
He has lived most of his adult life in Angwin, his attorney, Thomas Gill of Vallejo, said in court documents.
Copithorne is out of Napa County Jail on $100,000 bail, court records show.
The prosecutor said she would not oppose a postponement of Friday’s preliminary hearing to decide if the case is to be sent to Superior Court for trial.
In court records, the prosecution said it was in possession of hours of videotaped interviews, more than 300 text messages, photographs and videos.