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Many Questions Remain As Police Investigation into Izumizaki Allegations Continues

Police confirmed Thursday that they have received reports from "multiple victims" in their investigation into James Izumizaki, who was arrested last week on suspicion of committing lewd acts upon a minor under 14.

This story was updated at 6:45 a.m.

Albany police have received reports from multiple victims in their investigation into the life of a popular middle school teacher who is believed to have committed suicide Monday following his arrest last week, according to a statement released by authorities Thursday afternoon. 

According to the statement by Police Chief Mike McQuiston, multiple victims have been identified in connection with allegations about inappropriate conduct by 28-year-old James Izumizaki, a middle school teacher and coach who had lived in Albany since childhood. 

Many of Izumizaki's supporters have spoken out in the comments on Albany Patch to attest to the teacher's dedication, passion and love for his work and his students. Many community members have said they could not imagine the teacher being involved in inappropriate conduct, and have described Izumizaki as one of the most popular and adored figures in the district.

McQuiston wrote in his statement that, after receiving a "mandatory notice from the school district that allegations of impropriety had been made concerning Mr. Izumizaki’s relationship with a minor, the Albany Police began an investigation into that relationship."

Police interviewed the minor and other witnesses, then "collected additional evidence that confirmed information from those interviews."

Izumizaki was arrested Wednesday, Sept. 26, on suspicion of committing lewd acts with a minor under 14, and posted bail Thursday. The district attorney's office postponed an arraignment hearing originally set for Friday until later in October, prompting extensive public speculation about why the hearing had been put off.

Since Izumizaki's arrest, police have learned of more allegations regarding the teacher related to at least one other minor, McQuiston said.

He declined to state how many youth are involved in the allegations, adding that no details about gender or age will be released to protect the identity of the minors.

Police said last week that the first minor involved in the investigation was a former student of Izumizaki's; the Albany Middle School teacher was the school's athletic director, coached multiple sports and taught sixth grade. He also helped run the school's leadership club. 

McQuiston declined to state whether any additional minors identified by police as victims were also former students. 

He said Thursday afternoon that any documents related to the investigation, such as the arrest warrant and search warrant for Izumizaki's home, have been sealed by the court to protect the identity of minors involved in the case. 

Sgt. JD Nelson with the Alameda County sheriff's department said Thursday that there is no new information to release regarding Izumizaki's death. The department was alerted to the apparent suicide Monday when a relative called police to say authorities could find Izumizaki's body in a car on Via Alamitos in San Lorenzo. 

Nelson said officials are investigating the death as a suicide, but that it could take up to six weeks for the county coroner's office to complete its investigation and receive the results of a toxicology screening. At that time, a note found with Izumizaki's body will be turned over to the Albany Police Department if it's deemed relevant to the investigation, he said.  

McQuiston said he has not yet seen the note, but that it likely would be turned over to his office. 

McQuiston declined to elaborate on the nature of the allegations against Izumizaki, citing the on-going investigation. He said he could not discuss any of the evidence in the case, such as what, if anything, was retrieved during a search of Izumizaki's home, for the same reason. 

The teacher's death brings an end to any possible prosecution against him, said Alameda County district attorney's office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick. But McQuiston said Thursday that the Albany Police investigation will continue. 

"Our investigation continues today and it will continue until all known leads are exhausted," he wrote in the statement released Thursday. "We do this to ensure that no unknown victims remain who would likely need critical care or emotional support services. The reported victims in this matter are minors. The nature of the crimes under investigation and the manner in which this chain of events has unfolded (and continues to unfold) will manifest lifelong impacts on the victims."

McQuiston declined to comment about whether statements made by minors involved in the investigation have implicated anyone else. He cited the on-going investigation as the reason.

A number of readers on Albany Patch have expressed concern about a rap video, directed by a 2007 Albany High graduate, that appears to have been filmed in part at Izumizaki's home and features cameo appearances by the teacher. The video includes references to drug and alcohol use, as well as sexually explicit behavior. 

McQuiston said the video has been reviewed as part of the investigation. 

Albany Unified School District Superintendent Marla Stephenson said she did not know about the video until Wednesday, Oct. 3. 

Izumizaki's brother, Edward, could not be reached by phone or email for comment on Thursday. 

Thursday night, no one answered the door at Izumizaki's home, where he reportedly lived with a roommate. On the front porch of the home, where Izumizaki grew up with his parents and brother, mourners and supporters have left more than a dozen bouquets in his memory. The porch light was on, and the rest of the house lights appeared to be off, though a car was parked in the driveway.

Neighbor Marsha Skinner said she wasn't surprised no one answered the door, adding that television news crews had been omnipresent on the block all week, blocking traffic and hounding neighbors for interviews. 

"People should have the decency to let this family grieve in private at this point," she said late Thursday night. "They're nice people and they ought to be left alone."

RELATED ON ALBANY PATCH

  • Police Report Multiple Victims in Izumizaki Investigation; Explain How the Arrest Came About
  • Thursday: Interfaith Service of Healing and Comfort
  • What Patch Considered in Covering the Izumizaki Tragedy
  • Blog: Albany’s Children Are Hurting—Helping Your Teen Work Through This Life Changing Event
  • Blog: A Community Tragedy
  • School District Focuses on Helping Students Cope Following Teacher's Death
  • Video: District Holds Press Event After Teacher Death
  • California Launches Suicide Prevention Website
  • Arraignment Postponed for Teacher After 'Lewd Act' Arrest
  • Blog: Coping as a Community with Allegations of Sexual Offending
  • AMS Event: Having Difficult Conversations with Children
  • Parent Meeting Planned After Teacher Placed on Leave Following Alleged 'Lewd Acts'

Click the "Keep me posted" button below for updates about this story. 

If there's something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email at albany@patch.com.

Steve White October 09, 2012 at 01:16 AM
How about everyone demanding the Albany police release enough information for the public to at least judge if they acted properly? The bare minimum we should expect from any employee is that we can review their work, and that is the purpose of forcing them to release records. Right now, the fact they won't give specifics and the DA did not jump into the case full speed suggest the arrest was not really sollid.
Anonymous October 09, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Every thought that pops into our heads? These thoughts have been "popping" into our heads, our nightmares, since our abuse happened. Imagine 3 decades of living with this pain. "Respecting the living" would be giving us credibility and support instead of denying us of it. .
Copper Hat October 10, 2012 at 04:58 AM
There is very little information available, other than 'suspicion of lewd act'. I realize that privacy of all concerned must be respected, but I for one would like to have a sense of whether the suspected lewd act was a case of very inappropriate behavior and bad judgement or something far worse. I want to have this understanding not out of prurient curiosity, but to understand what I can do in the context of recognizing potential telltale behaviors with my own children. The Albany Policy response to allegations of this nature vary from 10 years later (as in the Anderson case) to apparently harsh and immediate as in the current case. The details released vary from excruciatingly and unnecessarily excessive (as in the Epple case) to almost non-existent as with current case. I believe the Albany Policy are just doing their job, but given the seemingly inconsistent approaches, I believe it also fair to ask why.
Copper Hat October 10, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Of course, I meant to write Police, not policy.
kensington74 October 12, 2012 at 05:24 PM
I just read this article a couple weeks ago about identifying molesters: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2012/09/24/120924crat_atlarge_gladwell

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