The Monterey County District Attorney’s office announced Friday, Nov. 5 that Juan Govea, a 40-year-old former biology teacher at Salinas High, pleaded no contest to two felonies involving sex acts with a minor.
A conclusion to his case has been a long time coming: Govea was first charged with unlawful sex with a minor in 2016, months after he had left Salinas High to start a new job at the Pacific Grove Natural History Museum as a director of exhibits and education.
Govea pleaded not guilty, and the charges were ultimately dropped in 2017 because the victim decided not to cooperate with prosecutors.
Govea returned to his job at the museum after the case was dismissed, but then resigned three years later, in September 2020, when new allegations surfaced on social media posted on the Instagram account @thisisour831, on which a young woman claimed she had been groomed and sexually abused by Govea in 2014, when he was teaching at Salinas High. Following that post and community members' demands for action, Govea resigned from his job at the museum.
According to prosecutors, that post prompted the victim from the 2016 charges to again approach the District Attorney’s Office out of concern for other victims; the charges in her case were refiled. Prosecutors say that part of her decision not to cooperate in the first attempt to try the case was due to communications with Govea, despite a protective order prohibiting him from communicating with her.
After that case was refiled, the woman who posted on @thisisour831 also reached out to the DA's office. She said when she was 16 years old and Govea’s teacher assistant, he engaged in a sex act with her for one night at his house in 2014.
Govea’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 25. Govea will be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years, as mandated by non-forcible sex offenses. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.