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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.

Karen Nierlich October 05, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Get real—If you have facts related to the case, I hope you have or will take them to the police. This is a tragic situation and healing will take time. I think it'd be best if people stopped speculating about about what happened in these public comment boards (though it's natural to try and figure it out.) It could be harmful to the victims. The same for debates about whether sex between teachers and teenagers is right/wrong or comparisons with other cultures. I don't think any of this is helpful to the community or the victims at this time. In my humble opinion we need to await the results of the police investigation and refrain from public speculation on public message boards.
neems October 06, 2012 at 01:31 AM
All it says is that "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." Where does it say that the video was made with a minor? All it says is that it was a 2007 Albany High graduate. Was it filmed in 2007 or later on, but simply with someone who had graduated in '07(In which case, definitely not a minor)? Was he teaching at the middle school at the time the video was made? What was the intent of the video, a funny joke? A serious rap video? A goofy satire? None of these things are said. Mr. I probably went to Albany High, as a 28 year old, he probably graduated from there in 2002-2003? There would only be a four or five year age difference. Perhaps they were friends and were just making a dumb rap video.
Anonymous October 06, 2012 at 01:45 AM
I'm so sorry, my daughter got into my account. I apologize for her, "BE QUIET".
Anonymous October 06, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Everyone please stop! My daughter reads these comments, as do many students, and it hurts her that people are being mean to her beloved teacher. Yes I do see that it looks like he was that kind of person, but it is easy to make that accusation to a popular teacher. If any of you saw all the AMS students on Tuesday October 2nd, you would have seen how many students were screaming and crying in pain. Please stop commenting against Mr. Izumizaki.
Steve White October 06, 2012 at 02:38 AM
The police have now refused to release information. IF the release would reduce doubt that they did the right thing, would they be holding it back? For that matter, it's reallly questionable that a lot of it is exempt from the Public Records Act. Police "investigatory and security" records are exempt, but this stuff is no longer investigatory since no charges will be filed. Maybe that is why they "continue to investigate". To have an excuse for not releasing files. I have no idea what happened and don't know a thing about this man, I am just saying there is reason to be suspicious. I would also say, the puiblic has not just a right but a DUTY, a civic duty, to ensure that the police are not arresting anyone without good cause.
Kelly Anne October 06, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I've been following this case, but do not live in Albany - therefore, perhaps I am being a bit too callous in my presumptions. I have to say, though, I've never seen a community rally behind a suspected child molester in such a grand fashion prior to this. This teacher seemingly was "one of the kids" - popular, well liked, "cool" and had some questionable ethics when it came to communicating with the kids after hours. None of my high school teachers (let alone middle school) ever hung out with us, called us at home, gave us rides to school and if they did, our parents would have flipped out. On the surface, this guy seems like a great guy - a wonderful coach, a great teacher, attractive and trustworthy. It would be very difficult to admit that perhaps you were all fooled and maybe it's easier to accuse your PD or the editor of this paper or each other - but from those of us who live in larger cities, you need to know, sexual abuse by a trusted and beloved adult happens all the time. If you are wrong, if those kids who allegedly were abused, were abused, they will be suffering for the rest of their lives with the aftermath of the abuse, the suicide, and the assumption that their Community has abandoned them.
Kelly Anne October 06, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I agree wholeheartedly. While his suicide was tragic, a vigil was over the top for a suspected sex offender. I cannot even begin to imagine the mixed emotions for those who were abused.
Kelly Anne October 06, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Something else to consider, the victims may not have believed they were victims (many kids do not, or are ashamed to admit what has happened). So, then there is the trauma of having your parents discover evidence of an inappropriate relationship, having it reported to the police, having a universally loved teacher (or so I'm being led to believe) arrested and then committing suicide, all based on the fact that he chose you. Can any of you even begin to imagine the lifetime of shame, guilt and horror ahead for these victims and this would be even without the dysfunctional and very weird community vigil and public show of support for this guy. If we was innocent, so be it and I hope that a public apology is issued. If not, your community has greatly failed not only the victims, but those who potentially will be victimized in the future.
MQ October 06, 2012 at 05:58 PM
@neems; The video might have been DIRECTED by a 2007 AHS graduate. But every other person you see in that video is a 2011-2012 graduate. Between ages 17-20.
honorary albany resident October 06, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Children read this and they also watch TV. Sexual content is everywhere. I think it's totally valid to discuss right/wrong comparisons with other cultures with regard to this situation. Legal right and wrong has changed over the years and people can quite easily disagree about what constitutes pedophilia, even though most agree that teacher/student relationships are wrong.
pkt October 06, 2012 at 08:57 PM
If you freeze the video @1:07 Neex Jane-Watch Me Do This Feat.Young Dizzle on Youtube.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP_Bf3HMo8M that video with students and Mr.I appears to be shot in his home as that frame matches the photo above where the memorial flowers are laid on his front porch. The exact furniture, house paint etc. Highly inappropriate, and the students also appear to be using his black car in their video, the one he died in. I do not find it acceptable for an educator to be socializing with under age students outside of school, especially with underage girls, alcohol and access to his vehicle and home.
pkt October 06, 2012 at 09:01 PM
pkt 1:57 pm on Saturday, October 6, 2012 If you freeze the video @1:07 Neex Jane-Watch Me Do This Feat.Young Dizzle on Youtube.com that video with students and Mr.I appears to be shot in his home as that frame matches the photo above where the memorial flowers are laid on his front porch. The exact furniture, house paint etc. Highly inappropriate, and the students also appear to be using his black car in their video, the one he died in. I do not find it acceptable for an educator to be socializing with under age students outside of school, especially with underage girls, alcohol and access to his vehicle and home.
pkt October 07, 2012 at 12:29 AM
neems- The video producer may have been a past graduate but the students in the video, many were last years graduating class and less. Also too young to drink and smoke weed in his house.
Observer October 07, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Imagine how the victims feel...this is why people do not come forward, because they are the ones blamed. We should be providing peace, love and support to the victims.
Kelly Anne October 07, 2012 at 03:27 AM
I agree with the comment above (GetReal). Since he cowardly bowed out rather than face his charges, a note would be a blessing. As for Tatter Salad - do your research. The Age of Consent in Hawaii is 16. Interestingly enough, 14 or 15 year olds are allowed to have sex in Hawaii, but their partner cannot be more than 5 years older than them. Regardless, the victims were under the age of 14. If he was participating in sexual activity with them, he was not their boyfriend, he was their abuser. Period. Sorry, I'm not aware of any state where having sex with your teacher is acceptable, either morally or legally. None of this makes much sense to me - I've never seen a community come up with so many excuses for defending an accused child molester. If you have doubts - fine - but don't have a community vigil for the guy. What would any of you do if this was your little girl he was abusing? Considering the comments I've read, it seems that an unhealthy portion of Albany would rather persecute the girls and their families rather than deal with the possibility that this "cool" teacher was actually a pervert. Come on over to San Francisco - you won't be disappointed with what we have to offer in the realm of seemingly nice men who will coach, tutor or babysit your children while you sit there with the wool over your eyes. How naive can you be to blindly accept that someone is innocent based on how great of a coach, teacher or "mentor" he is?
Bea Ruberto October 07, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Memorials/vigils are for the living not the dead. Many students and adults needed to come together to heal from this tragedy. My son was in his class this year and he's too young to understand the allegations, but he understands that his teacher is dead and not coming back. James was someone's son, family member, teacher, co-worker and friend. You appear to be a heartless and mean person to say that these people don't deserve to morn, (even in light of what he *may* have done).
Concerned October 07, 2012 at 06:12 AM
Because there are minors in this video, I ask that you take this off of this site. Of course people could look for it themselves on you tube, but out of respect for the victims, please take down the link.
Elizabeth October 07, 2012 at 07:21 AM
This is a disgusting video. The teacher is also at second :14 in the video. This guy led a double life. Reminds me of the Neil Shumate case also in Alameda County (in Pleasanton). He was one of the teacher union leaders. The teachers' union in Pleasanton also cried "salem witch trial!!! even after he was convicted of all counts.
Tami October 07, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Mother of two victims of educator sexual abuse: The situation at Albany Middle School is sadly reminiscent of the painful experience my two daughters endured in 2008, when my 11 year old daughter confided in a friend that her middle school band teacher was molesting her. Upon learning of her sister's molest, my 14 year old daughter came forward to report that this teacher had molested her the previous year at age 13. The response from the community caused far more emotional damage than the actions of the molester. Many in our small community rallied behind this popular teacher, wearing buttons of support, proclaiming his innocence, and criticizing the police for their handling of the case. Little did they know that this teacher had already signed a full confession upon his arrest. Parents, students, and even faculty expressed doubt as to the legitimacy of the allegations, and vilified my daughters, the victims, openly calling them whores and liars. Some downplayed the severity of the crimes, labeling the molests as "sexual relationships” and viewing my children as willing participants. Many of their peers engaged in a campaign of harassment, as parents, teachers, and school administrators turned a blind eye. The pain and damage inflicted by the community has left wounds that will stay with my family for a lifetime.
Tami October 07, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I find it so troubling that so many have taken up sides in this case, without being privy to all of the evidence and facts, rather than allow the justice system to make the determination of innocence or guilt. Regardless of how this plays out, damage is being caused, much of it by well meaning people. I know all too well how this behavior impacts victims, and their families. My children are now adults, with children of their own, and they continue to struggle in their efforts to heal, and forgive those in the community who rushed to judgment. Ironically, my younger daughter is now an Albany resident, and this recent incident has saddened her and has given her pause to consider whether she wants to continue raising her own daughter in a community that rallies behind an accused child molester and seems to forget that there is another side to this story, and another family thrust into pain and turmoil. My daughters both attempted suicide, abused drugs and alcohol, and continue in therapy to this day. They have struggled with the guilt and shame, as their teacher was sentenced to prison. I cannot begin to imagine the effects this situation will undoubtedly have on the alleged victims and their families, given the suicide of this teacher. I urge the community of Albany to consider both sides of this situation, and not compound the pain that already exists by trying this case in the media, and choosing sides. Your response to this tragedy will have a lifetime impact.
Tami October 07, 2012 at 07:13 PM
The situation at Albany Middle School is sadly reminiscent of the painful experience my two daughters endured in 2008, when my 11 year old daughter confided in a friend that her middle school band teacher was molesting her. Upon learning of her sister's molest, my 14 year old daughter came forward to report that this teacher had molested her the previous year at age 13. The response from the community caused far more emotional damage than the actions of the molester. Many in our small community rallied behind this popular teacher, wearing buttons of support, proclaiming his innocence, and criticizing the police for their handling of the case. Little did they know that this teacher had already signed a full confession upon his arrest. Parents, students, and even faculty expressed doubt as to the legitimacy of the allegations, and vilified my daughters, the victims, openly calling them whores and liars. Some downplayed the severity of the crimes, labeling the molests as "sexual relationships” and viewing my children as willing participants. Many of their peers engaged in a campaign of harassment, as parents, teachers, and school administrators turned a blind eye. The pain and damage inflicted by the community has left wounds that will stay with my family for a lifetime.
JustDucky October 07, 2012 at 10:29 PM
In Jr. high I had a male teacher who dated students. I knew his wife and three wonderful boys but I didn't say anything because he was the favorite teacher. Nobody would tell because he bought the students alcohol and drugs making him the coolest teacher. The parents loved him and the fact he was nice looking helped him with our mothers. At my 30 year reunion his name was mentioned and one of my male classmates said, "You mean Mr Child Molester?" Us girls had no idea the guys knew but apparently they didn't feel brave enough to say something. If students knew, don't you think teachers knew? When our school finally found out, they transferred him to a high school where he carried his ways on. For several years I have worked in school districts throughout N. Cal. We are an outside vendor so few teachers even notice we are there but we do notice them. After telling a teacher I would be in the boys locker room, he simply forgot, and 5 minutes later he sent in the Sr. Boys class to change. I had to hide under his desk, in his office, and call my co-worker to get the Principal to get me out of the situation. That was alawsuit waiting to happen. The male teacher actually chuckled when it was all over. I have witnessed teachers being overly friendly and overly mean to students and I do report things to the office. I truly believe too many teachers only know how to control people and the unions intimidate other teachers from reporting them.
The adults need to be adults October 08, 2012 at 06:42 PM
@Judah & Tamar: if this is written as a defense for Mr. I, it has backfired. 28 year old men should not be having sex with 13 year old girls, period, and particularly when they are the girls' teacher. I hope the Albany Schools step up to the plate and educate its teachers and its children on appropriate limits to avoid future victims.
Concerned Citizen October 08, 2012 at 08:02 PM
I am outraged you believe you and your child are so important that everyone must cease their discussion merely because it upsets your child. This is a public news forum, if the posts here upset your child try exercising parental responsibility and don’t allow your child to visit this site. If the posts upset you, don’t read them.
John Doh! October 09, 2012 at 12:17 AM
I wish everyone would stop writing every possible thought that pops into their heads. Use your imagination to answer the questions (many possibilities are out there,) and consider that the questions that are being written will likely cause pain. One person is dead, at least respect the living.
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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