David Michael Bruce, 68, a retired Sycamore Junior High School drama teacher who was on trial for allegedly molesting five of his students, apparently took his own life as his attorney and a prosecutor were preparing to begin closing arguments Wednesday morning, according to the O.C. Register.
David Michael Bruce, 68, was found dead in his home in an unincorporated area of Anaheim south of Los Angeles, according to ABC News.
Bruce’s body was found by an acquaintance and they called the O.C. Sheriff’s department.
His death is considered at this point a “suspected” suicide. The official cause of death is pending an autopsy.
Bruce was facing between 25 years to life and 200 years to life in prison if he had been convicted.
Prosecutors had originally planned on charging Bruce with molesting six of his former students but one of them opted out of participating in the trial so they had to amend their case.
Bruce was looking at 10 counts of committing lewd acts on minors.
His alleged victims were at his Anaheim school from 1996-98; 1997- 2000; 2002-04; 2007-09; and 2009-11, according to the prosecutor.
The charges involved Bruce massaging his students – and that behavior soon became an obsession with his students’ buttocks. The allegations included rubbing, touching and spanking of the students’ buttocks.
Bruce would allegedly take the students back to his residence and to tapings at Los Angeles studios. Apparently Bruce claimed to have Hollywood connections and that he could get the students jobs in the film industry.
Police investigators also reportedly found erotic photos of young boys at Bruce’s residence. Investigators also apparently had a recorded phone call with one of the alleged victims, in which Bruce allegedly admitted to committing lewd acts.
The victims included a special education student who would “hang out” with Bruce at lunch. Bruce allegedly gave the boy gifts such as an iPod and skateboard, according to the prosecutor.
The investigation began when one of the victims told his sister about the abuse. When that sister was later registering her own child at that school some years later she asked if Bruce still worked there. The sister was told that Bruce had retired and she replied that she was pleased as he had “molested” her brother.
A school custodian also apparently found the defendant massaging a student.
Bruce’s defense attorney called the victims liars. He also alleged that one of them had a history of psychiatric issues. And that another victim had a long history of dishonesty for over a decade.
The defense attorney claimed that the students were motivated by money.