RICHMOND, CA – A now-former 35-year-old biology teacher was arrested earlier in April and has since been charged with 29 counts of various sex crimes involving minors, with prosecutors alleging there are at least seven underage victims involved in the case.
On April 6th, Anessa Paige Gower, who was reportedly a biology teacher at Making Waves Academy in Richmond, was arrested at her Sacramento home after she returned back from vacationing in Hawaii.
The Costa District Attorney’s Office claims that Gower had victimized at least seven minors between 2021 and 2022, allegedly engaging in “numerous” illicit acts with children that ranged from sharing sexually graphic photos online, inappropriate touching, to outright sex.
Making Waves Academy Chief Executive Officer Alton B. Nelson, Jr. issued a public statement regarding the arrest of Gower, claiming they’d been internally investigating claims of a teacher who violated policy and alerted authorities when “additional highly concerning allegations” cropped up during their internal review.
“There is nothing more important than the health, safety and well-being of our students. During the course of an investigation into allegations that one of our teachers violated school policy, we learned of additional highly concerning allegations involving that teacher’s conduct. We immediately shared that information with authorities who are reviewing the matter. That teacher is no longer employed by Making Waves Academy and we have reached out to parents, students and faculty to provide support where it might be needed. At this time we can make no further comment.”
Officials have not released the ages or genders of the victims, but the school that Gower worked out of did host students from fifth grade to twelfth grade. Gower is currently being held on bail set at $1.9 million.
The arrest of Gower marks another dark chapter in the history of Making Waves Academy, as the school in question played host to a former sixth grade teacher who was convicted of molesting 15 young boys for several years back in 2017.
Ronald David Guinto, who is currently serving a 931-year sentence for molesting the 15 boys, had worked at Making Waves Academy from 2011 to 2013 and had founded a youth program called Camp Epic while teaching there.
Making Waves Academy fired Guinto in November of 2013 after abuse allegations were reported, which the school quickly notified law enforcement and cooperated with the investigation. However, Guinto wasn’t arrested until March of 2014. Because of this, he was able to land another teaching role at Mira Vista Elementary School in El Cerrito in the months between his termination at Making Waves Academy and his eventual arrest.
Twelve of the former students who had been sexually abused by Guinto while at Making Waves Academy reached a collective $10.9 million settlement with the school in January of 2020.