Physics teacher Mr. Matt Yamamoto arrested on suspicion of an unlawful relationship with a minor


Screenshots of articles and Facebook posts regarding the arrest. Photo illustration by ILAF ESUF

Screenshots of articles and Facebook posts regarding the arrest. Photo illustration by ILAF ESUF

When Amanda Carlson got online and saw the article with his mugshot, she just started crying. “My heart dropped,” she said. 

Physics teacher Mr. Matt Yamamoto was arrested Monday on suspicion of an unlawful, sexual relationship with a minor student. Although much of the case is confidential and details have not been revealed, students have started an Internet flurry both defending and condemning Yamamoto.

Mugshots of the popular teacher flashed on screens in the Rocklin area as local news stations such as CBS and KCRA3 covered the breaking news. Students discovered the information through social networking sites while teachers officially learned about the news at an afternoon staff meeting. WHS administration and Rocklin Unified School District officials have not made an official statement, leaving students to speculate.

“Whenever I was around him, he was always surrounded by female students, all standing close, lots of laughing and smiling. It seems innocent enough, but then when something like this happens, I can see where it’s coming from,” senior Jordan Todd said.

Although students do not know the whole story, they are determined to take a stance. High school students are notorious for claiming rumors as facts and some students have even based their opinion of Yamamoto’s innocence from these rumors.

“Yam’s a great guy and he was a great teacher, and if he was able to keep his job or get a different teaching position, I think anyone able to have him would be fortunate,” senior John Hammock said.

Facebook posts throughout the afternoon and evening show students and graduates are rallying in support. Pages such as “Free Yamamoto” and a post on fundraising website are making their way throughout the Internet, gathering support from every corner.

“I really hope the Wildcat family’s judgment isn’t clouded now. I don’t know the exact implications of being charged of this even if proven innocent as far as his career goes, but I hope the Whitney community stands by him,” former student Saba Rahman said.

Not only was Rahman one of Yamamoto’s TAs and students, she is also one of his friends.

“My first instinct after I heard about this was to contact him and let him know that I’m still on his side, as I hope many others will be, too. Especially because there is no way he is guilty of molestation,” Rahman said.

Yamamoto was arrested and is being held on $100,000 bail after Rocklin Police detectives served a search warrant Monday morning. Although he is currently in jail, his arrest does not confirm the allegations. The California legal system does give those arrested a chance to contact a lawyer or arrange bail. Yamamoto is on administrative leave of absence and will not be returning to the E building anytime soon.

“If I were to look at him right now and have a conversation right now I don’t even know what I would say to him. Yesterday we would have talked about homecoming and football and him running by my house everyday on the bike path. But today, I don’t know what we would talk about. We couldn’t talk about those things because I don’t know how to react to this all. I don’t know what to think,” Carlson said.

Student speculations continue to run rampant on social networking sites, but nothing can be determined without all of the facts.

“I think it is really too soon to make anything other than guesses, but what I’ve read I would guess he’s probably going to be found guilty. This is going to make a lot of people at WHS really upset because he is a great guy and a great teacher and was loved by almost everyone on campus. It’s really a shame he (allegedly) made this mistake. I hope that he is found innocent or acquitted of all charges and teaches again because I know that’s what he loves to do, even though that is incredibly unlikely,” senior Cody Johnsrud said.

Yamamoto, a teacher who was “favored by most of his students,” according to senior Alyssa Abaco, was to be honored as the RUSD Teacher of the Year at the school board meeting on Wednesday night. However, because of these allegations, it is hard to determine what his future role in the RUSD will be.

Although a variety of WHS teachers were contacted to see how they are dealing with the news, no one felt comfortable commenting for this story.

Carlson said, “The thing that kills me is looking at his mugshot on the news. I can see that that is not him. I have never seen that look before on his face. I think about him like what is he doing at this exact moment, and It kills me to think that he is sitting in a jail cell finding a lawyer. I just can’t believe it.”