By Linh Nguyen and Maxwell C. Myrhum
WOODLAND – A West Sacramento man, a teacher, has been accused of engaging in sexual dialogue with a 12-year-old student over Instagram direct messages, including sending her sexually explicit pictures and arranging to meet up for his own sexual interest.
The defendant, Taylor Gholar, sat in a preliminary hearing on two charges: felony arranging a meeting with a minor and felony meeting or communicating with a minor. The alleged victim is a minor and a student that Gholar taught a few years ago. At the time of the incident, he was the director of an after-school program that the alleged victim’s relative participated in. The messages between Gholar and the alleged victim over Instagram began around 12:30 pm on Jan. 19, 2020, and continued through around 2 am on Jan. 20, 2020.
Officers Vierra and Yakimchuk from the West Sacramento Police Department were dispatched to the alleged victim’s residence at around 1 am on January 20. The officers met the alleged victim, her mother and her stepfather.
Officer Vierra testified that he was dispatched on a call concerning a 12-year-old teenager receiving sexual messages from a teacher via Instagram. The defendant was allegedly asking the teenager for “sexy photos.”
In the messages, the teenager explicitly told Gholar that she was 12, turning 13 soon.
Vierra testified that the conversation between Gholar and the alleged victim began as a teacher checking in on a student, as the alleged victim had recently been involved in a physical altercation. The alleged victim sent Gholar many emojis, including the “kissy face” emoji. That emoji was sent as an accident but was what the alleged victim’s mother believed to be what started the sexual nature of the messages. At some point, the alleged victim came to her mother, telling her the conversation was getting “weird.”
The alleged victim’s stepfather was sending messages back to Gholar, posing as the alleged victim at Officer Vierra’s instruction. They were arranging for the alleged victim to sneak out to meet Gholar, telling him that she was at a friend’s house for a sleepover and that the girls were going to bed so she could sneak out then.
At one point, Gholar asked the alleged victim to send him “sexy” pictures. Under the discretion of Officer Vierra, the officers arranged for the alleged victim to send a picture of herself and later the defendant allegedly sent a sexual picture of himself. No pictures had been sent prior to Officer Vierra arriving at the residence.
Her upset mother told the officers that the response should have been, “But I don’t have titties or ass.”
Gholar and the officers (who Gholar believed to be the alleged victim) arranged to meet up at Burgers and Brew, about 0.25 miles from the alleged victim’s residence.
The officers sent a picture of the alleged victim in her boots, as if she were walking to the meetup location. Gholar sent back a picture in his vehicle, implying he was on his way. Vierra alerted Yakimchuk that Gholar would be in a vehicle.
Officer Nazary Yakimchuk then testified before the court regarding his involvement on Jan. 20, 2020.
The officer was present during a majority of the back and forth messaging between the parents of the victim and the defendant. Officer Yakimchuk, however, left in order to attempt to apprehend the then-suspect at the Burgers and Brew nearby.
The team of officers established different observation points near the Burgers and Brew and the surrounding area in West Sacramento. Their objective was to wait for the then-suspect in his allegedly black car and then arrest him.
Another officer, Sergeant Lang, ran the license plate of a car in the area through his database and alerted the other officers on watch that the car was silver and nearby. Shortly after this finding, Gholar’s vehicle was spotted and he was then arrested by Officer Yakimchuk around 3:00 a.m.
On his person, Gholar allegedly had two unused and packaged condoms.
With the details of the defendant’s apprehension and arrest settled, the defense utilized the remainder of the testimony, clarifying inconsistencies with the officer’s time on the witness stand.
The confusion is regarding the different positions of the officer’s patrol cars, more specifically Sergeant Lang’s vehicle, while they were monitoring the area for Gholar. The defense elaborated how Officer Yakimchuk’s report of Sergeant Lang’s patrol car on a street nearby was incorrect. The claim made by the defense was supported by a Google map of the area and Sergeant Lang’s dashcam footage from the night displayed to the court.
The defense also questioned the credibility of Sergeant Lang’s claim to have seen the suspect in a silver car before running the license plates through the police database, given that the defendant’s car has windows with significant tinting. The defense then displayed a single frame from the arrest video that portrays the significant tinting on the defendant’s vehicle.
Officer Yakimchuk then responded to the credibility question of Lang, stating that he (Yakimchuk) took Sergeant Lang’s word as true while being briefed on details and writing the report after the arrest.
Following Officer Yakimchuk’s witness testimony, the prosecution then argued that the first felony charge under the penal code states that it is unlawful to arrange a meeting with a minor or a person believed to be minor, as the intention of arranging with a minor is present in both statements. Furthermore, they argued that the second felony charge under the penal code states that it is unlawful to contact or attempt to contact a minor, for the same reason of intention.
The court found that there was sufficient evidence to hold the defendant, Taylor Gholar, answerable to the charges against him.
An arraignment has been set for March 18, 2020, at 10:00 a.m.
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