A former teacher is scheduled to enter a plea Thursday morning.
Peter Kolesnikov, 38, appeared in court at 2:20 p.m. Tuesday at the Fremont Hall of Justice to be arraigned on 22 counts of sexual assault, including charges of statutory rape, oral copulation of a minor and communicating with a minor with criminal intent, according to court records. He is also being charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell.
Kolesnikov is currently being held on $1 million bail, which his attorney David Billingsley filed a motion to reduce. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Keller is expected to rule on the bail reduction motion on Thursday as well.
About 20 former students attended the Tuesday afternoon arraignment in support of Kolesnikov, whom many refer to as “Mr. K.”
“He’s one of the best teachers I ever had,” said former student Jose Garcia. “He was funny. He was helpful. He was just different.”
“If all of us showed up here, he must have done something right,” said Shabnam Rahimi, 18.
Many of his students also took to social media to express their views after Kolesnikov's arrest last week.
“Thanks to Mr. K, I was actually able to graduate. Support and help like no other teacher I've ever met,” one student wrote on Twitter.
Others, however, said that Kolesnikov made inappropriate comments in the classroom.
“Although he was referred to being a cool teacher, he would every so often drop little sexual comments, messing around or not,” another student wrote on Twitter. (See other reactions to the story from around the web .)
All but one of the students present Tuesday said they never witnessed Kolesnikov engage in any inappropriate acts or communications in the classroom.
Former student Richard Ramirez, 20, said Kolesnikov would allow students to cut their classes and stay in his classroom and would flirt with female students.
“I felt very uncomfortable around him because he was always around girls,” Ramirez said.
He said others are afraid to speak because they’re “blinded by his coolness.”
Kolesnikov was well-liked among both students and staff, said one co-worker and friend who wished to remain anonymous.
Kolesnikov taught English and some art classes at the school for 12 years until he took leave at the end of the 2010-11 school year, according to the co-worker. His leave of absence was unrelated to the criminal charges, Union City police said.
“He was a completely dedicated teacher,” the co-worker said. “He was very devoted to his students personally, emotionally and academically.”
“I have never seen anything physically inappropriate with a student,” she said.
When asked if he was verbally inappropriate, she replied that Kolesnikov was “a jokester, having a good time with the kids.”
According to the co-worker, Kolesnikov was not married and did not have any children.
Kolesnikov’s relatives were also present at the Tuesday arraignment but declined to speak to reporters.
He is scheduled to return to court to enter a plea at 9 a.m. Thursday in Dept. 605 at the Fremont Hall of Justice.
Kolesnikov was arrested Thursday by Union City police. Authorities said he was on his way to meet with the juvenile victim at an undisclosed location in Hayward. Authorities said they had received information that Kolesnikov had engaged in sexual relations with a 16-year-old girl over a nine-month period from March to November of last year.
The victim, now 17, told police the relationship began with kissing and grew into sexual encounters in private homes and motels in Alameda County.
Authorities believe there may be additional victims and are urging parents to speak to their children about the incident.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Union City Police Department’s Press Information Officer Ben Horner at 510-675-5225. Anonymous tips may also be made by calling 510-675-5207 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.