2013-09-27 / Front Page

Former teacher sentenced to six years for sex crime

By Gabrielle Moreira

Malia Brooks, a former teacher at Garden Grove Elementary School Impact Academy who pled guilty to lewd acts with a student, was sentenced today to six years in state prison with no option for parole.

Brooks faced a maximum of 12 years in prison, but at Ventura County Superior Court this morning, Judge Kevin McGee imposed the six-year sentence because of the “uniqueness” of the case and the fact there were no additional victims.

Brooks will also be required to pay restitution to the victim’s family, a $2,000 fine and provide a blood sample for DNA testing in the case.

Once she is finished with her sentence, Brooks will be on parole for five years. Though she does not have a chance for early parole, she does have the option to file for an appeal within 60 days.

McGee listened as the 12-year-old victim’s mother asked that Brooks remain incarcerated because she is a danger to the community. The victim’s mother also asked that her son have time to “finish growing up and finish school.”

“I don’t think she’s ever going to know how sick or dangerous she is,” the mother said.

Michele Finseth, Brooks' mother, spoke next and said her daughter suffered a severe mental breakdown toward the end of last year resulting from a possible rape she experienced 17 years ago in Sudan.

When Brooks was younger, she and her family were Christian missionaries and traveled all over the world.  At the end of last year, Brooks began to retreat from her family as she tried to deal with what happened to her when she was young.

At the request of her mother, Brooks began therapy sessions in August 2012, and continued them until shortly before she was arrested on June 11.

But deputy district attorney Erin Meister argued that while Brooks was in therapy, she still chose to initiate a sexual relationship with her student.

“She knew what she was doing was wrong and she still did it,” Meister said. “It seems she has not come to terms with what she has done.”

Brooks’ attorney Ron Bamieh countered Meister’s claims by saying Brooks did everything she was asked to do and was quick to plead guilty for her crimes.

“To say that this was some long, thought-out desire is wrong,” Bamieh said. “She broke and had repressed things that happened to her. It’s a mental illness. It destroyed her, her family and her life.”

After hearing both sides, McGee said this case was the most unique he had dealt with in his 30-year career.

“She was a good person for years,” McGee said. “Mrs. Brooks led an exemplary life and then something happened, but I still believe this is a six-year case.”

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