A 30-year-old Merced High School science teacher pleaded no contest this week to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old female student.
In a plea deal negotiated with the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, Blia Yang was sentenced to serve one year in the Merced County Jail and will spend five years on felony probation. In exchange for the plea entered Monday, prosecutors dismissed a felony count of oral copulation with a minor and a misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a minor, according to Steve Slocum, supervising deputy district attorney.
He will not have to register as a sex offender, prosecutors confirmed.
Yang taught physics and chemistry at Merced High School for five years. The victim in the case was one of his students, investigators have said.
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He has been on leave from the district since his arrest Dec. 31, 2016, when a Merced County sheriff’s deputy caught Yang and the girl “engaged in inappropriate sexual activities” in a pickup truck parked on 21st Street, around the corner from the Sheriff’s Office. Yang first claimed he and the girl came to the park to play “Pokemon Go.”
Slocum said there were two major factors considered during plea negotiations. Yang was evaluated by a medical expert who concluded the science teacher was not a pedophile or a predator, Slocum said.
Slocum said the “requests of the victim and her family” also were a “major consideration.”
“She really did not want to testify and her concerns and the concerns about testifying of her family are important,” Slocum said.
Yang was evaluated by a medical expert who concluded the science teacher was not a pedophile or a predator, prosecutors said.
District Attorney Larry Morse II said he “understands that people are going to have opinions” regarding the sentence Yang received, but said describing it as a “light sentence” would be inaccurate. Morse noted that in “about 30 states, the legal age of consent is 16.”
“So while we enforce California laws, in more than half the country, this wouldn’t even be a crime, let alone a felony,” Morse said. “We have to keep all these things in mind in each case. There are many factors that go into every case. In this case, like all cases, you have the victim’s family’s feelings, the facts and circumstances, cultural overtones, and we have to always look at the bigger picture.”
Morse noted the jail term isn’t the only consequence Yang will face. Yang will surrender his teaching credential and though he’ll be able to reapply for the credential at the end of his probation, Morse said there was almost no chance he’d be readmitted by the state commission on credentialing.
“I’m comfortable that this was the appropriate outcome under all the circumstances,” Morse said.
Ralph Calderon, assistant superintendent of human resources at the Merced Union High School District, said he was aware of the conviction and was looking forward to “putting this behind us now.”
“This certainly does not represent the 464 other teachers we have that do a great job,” Calderon said Tuesday. “Whenever something like this happens, it gives us all a black eye.”
According to court records, Yang was ordered to report July 31 to the Merced County jail to begin his time in custody.
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482