Judge tells teacher schools are off-limits

The English teacher accused of filming girls as they used a Mills High School bathroom is out on bail but barred from lurking anywhere near minors or schools, prosecutors said.

A judge on Wednesday denied prosecutors’ motion to raise David Lista’s bail to $300,000, but imposed several restrictions on the 35-year-old Belmont resident, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

The teacher, who spent two days in county jail before posting a $125,000 bail bond on April 10, has been instructed to steer clear from children, to stay at least 100 yards from all elementary and high schools, and to use the Internet solely for job hunting or for sending e-mails to adult members of his family, Wagstaffe said.

“There’s not really a way of proctoring [Lista’s Internet use], but if there’s any rumor he’s been using it for any other reason, we’ll check the computer,” Wagstaffe said.

Wagstaffe said investigators can find practically any trace of activity on a computer and that it would be nearly impossible to completely erase or bury content.

Lista faces several felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from his alleged videotaping of girls using the school bathroom — footage that a school technology coordinator found on the teacher’s classroom computer while investigating a server backup, prosecutors said.

Police subsequently searched Lista’s home and allegedly found hundreds of lewd images and video clips of minors on his personal computer, along with evidence the teacher had also stashed a camera under his classroom desk so he could film students during class, prosecutors said. Police said they also seized a small amount of methamphetamine at Lista’s home.

Lista pleaded not guilty to all the charges. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for July 29.

He is still technically a teacher at Mills High School and remains on paid administrative leave. The San Mateo Union High School District board will discuss the teacher’s fate during a closed-session meeting Thursday. Superintendent David Miller said the district did not want to take action prior to Lista officially being charged.

maldax@examiner.com

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