Students stunned by sexual assault allegations against choir director Andrew Ford

May 24, 2020 — by Manasi Garg, Allison Hartley and Kaitlyn Tsai

Choir director Andrew Ford was arrested on May 15 and charged with sexually assaulting a minor between 2004 and 2006, according to a published report in the East Bay Times. 

The 33-year-old teacher was charged with one count each of sexual penetration by force or duress, oral copulation by force or duress and oral copulation with a minor under 18.

The district is currently investigating whether any inappropriate behavior occurred during Ford’s time at Saratoga High. Ford has been placed on a leave of absence by the district since mid-April and is currently being held at Elmwood men’s jail in Milpitas, where he is being held on $250,000 bail, the East Bay Times reported.

Before Ford left, he told his students he had to attend to a family emergency and would return as soon as possible, said junior Francesca Fernandes, who is in choir. In the interim, band director Jason Shiuan has taken over the class and helped organize a virtual choir piece, for which a video editor strung together individual recordings from each choir member.

Ford has worked as the choral director since 2014, and also helps lead the school’s orchestras and band. 

Ford’s students reacted largely with a sense of disbelief at the allegations. 

Senior Ritika Kuppam, who is in choir, said she was shocked.

“I've known Mr. Ford since I was in sixth grade as he would sub for my choir teacher when she couldn't make it,” Kuppam said. “I remember loving his charisma and passion for music, and that's continued through high school as I've worked with him on musicals. It's really hard for me to connect these allegations with Mr. Ford as a person because it's all so surreal.”

Many students recalled Ford as someone they could rely on for guidance in their academic and personal lives. Fernandes remembers Ford from choir, school musicals and CMEA trips and said that Ford helped her prepare for singing competitions.

“He really does care about each and every one of his students,” Fernandes said. “He’s always there to talk or to help you if you need anything.” 

Junior Isaac Sun, one of the drum majors for marching band, described Ford as “the person students would always go to when they feel down or sad.”

Sun said he worked with Ford this past marching band season and became close to him as Ford helped Sun improve his drum major skills.

“I just feel a bit overwhelmed,” Sun said. “I’m guessing most people in the music department are taking it the same way I am.” 

Ford majored in music education at San Jose State University and periodically works as a vocal director for Children’s Musical Theater in San Jose. He began as a choir and orchestra teacher at Saratoga High after being recommended to music director Michael Boitz through a mutual connection.

Ford has no criminal history, and these allegations are  unrelated to any person at SHS. 

The investigation began in December. He turned himself in to the San Jose police on May 14 when he learned the agency had issued an arrest warrant for him.

 

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Comments

why would you post this :(

I am really saddened by this terrible news but I am also really shocked to see this on your main page! Was it really necessary? Think about it....

Thank you reporting, it is important that the school is transparent with this.

Although this is a hard situation for many students, thank you for acknowledging the situation and its facts.

This story seems very suspect. He is being held at Elmwood (on what charges?) for something that may have been consensual or non-consensual over 16 years ago? And it would rely on hearsay evidence. Did the D.A. plant this story? This man's reputation is ruined no matter what. Criminal Justice Reform? Start with this very case. Is it prosecutorial over reach? A felony charged when a misdemeanor would suffice?

This story is not meant to reach a conclusion about Andrew Ford's case, nor is it an investigative piece into his charges. It is merely meant to inform members of the Saratoga community of recent events that have transpired regarding Ford's arrest and represent student emotions. All information regarding Ford's charges and arrest are from The Mercury News.

It’s irresponsible to paint him in such a good light even after stating that he continually molested a child and was arrested for it. This is white privilege at it’s finest. He is appalling for what he has done and he should not be painted in a good light.

This story is not meant to cast Andrew Ford in a positive or negative light. The Saratoga Falcon interviewed many students from the music department to represent their emotions after hearing the news of Andrew Ford's arrest. In no way are these emotions meant to be considered fact.

The article does not state that he "continually" molested anyone, nor does the story state the victim is a "child". Please do not add words that are not there. Further, in 2004, Mr. Ford himself was also a minor. Someone is alleging one incident happened between 14 and 16 years ago. Our justice system states innocent until proven guilty. He has not plead guilty nor been proven guilty of any wrong doing. The community who knows Mr. Ford is in shock, because these allegations do not line up with the Mr. Ford they know. He is a sweet, kind, and professional man.

I would like to affirm the comments by Ms. Heintz and repeat that Mr. Ford is a sweet, kind man who has always been professional and polite when working with kids while vocal directing (my kids included). I do not understand how this is even a case, since both Mr. Ford and the alleged person were BOTH minors, and no information is provided that may specify consent. I believe in Mr. Ford's innocence.

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Choir director accused of sexual assault
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