When he was arrested in December of 2016 on felony charges of unlawful sex with a minor, Juan Govea was a new employee at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History. While his case moved through the court system, he remained employed, though he did not physically work in the museum until after prosecutors dropped his case.
At that time, Sept. 1, 2017, he returned to his position as director of exhibits and education. Almost three years to the day, on Sept. 3, Govea resigned from his most recent position at the museum, director of community engagement.
The resignation comes after similar allegations surfaced on social media in recent days.
Both the criminal and social media allegations against Govea concern former students. Before joining the staff of the museum, he taught biology at Salinas High School for 11 years, and the alleged crime happened about six months after he left the school. The girl was 17 at the time, and was 18 by the time the case proceeded through the court system.
While the Monterey County District Attorney prosecuted the case, it was moved from Monterey County Superior Court to San Benito County Superior Court after the entire local bench recused itself due to a conflict. The conflict: Govea's mother, Lydia Villarreal, is a Monterey County Superior Court judge.
Govea pleaded not guilty. As prosecutors prepared to try his case, Jane Doe refused to cooperate, which led them to withdraw charges. "There wasn’t any way to make this case without her," Chief Deputy District Attorney Berkley Brannon said at the time, in August of 2017.
A lack of victim cooperation in such cases is not uncommon, Brannon said: "When someone’s in a position of power, they have undue influence and they can exploit that."
Fast forward to the present, when a new Instagram account, called @thisisour831, launched. "#thisisour831 is a project in response to recent conversations in Monterey County on the culture of silence and shame that exists around sexual violence, abuse and trauma," reads the first post from three weeks ago. "This is not a new issue. It is a pattern."
The only post on their feed so far references a specific incident was made on Aug. 29, and describes allegations against Govea. The post claims to be a story "from another young woman that was groomed and sexually abused by Juan Govea," although the Weekly was not able to reach her or verify her identity.
She describes what started as a texting relationship when she was 16 or 17, then Govea inviting her to his home near the school, where she says he served dinner and Champagne followed by peach vodka. After that, she writes, she was too drunk to go home. She spent the night and they had oral sex.
A commenter on the Instagram post urges viewers to email P.G. museum leadership calling on them to remove Govea from his job.
And the emails to museum leadership flowed in. One letter sent on Sept. 2 was signed by 15 former staffers and called for Govea's resignation. "It is our shared belief that the museum must act now to ensure the health and safety of local children and students, as well as preserve the integrity and future well-being of the long-standing community future that is the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History," they wrote. "Given the allegations that are now coming to light, we believe his resignation is the only way to achieve these goals."
In an email to museum staff and supporters on the evening of Sept. 3, Executive Director Jeanette Kihs and board member Tama Olver wrote, "I have accepted the resignation of Juan Govea…People are at the heart of what we do and the public trust is of the utmost important. In support of our shared commitment to the mission of the museum, the next step is to reestablish lines of communications. We have experienced a very difficult time and are committed to learning from it and moving forward."
Neither Kihs nor Olver responded to requests for comment on Friday, Sept. 4. Govea could not be reached on Friday, nor the attorney who represented him in the criminal case in 2017.