ANAHEIM, Calif. - A man accused of molesting students while working as a junior high school drama teacher was found dead in his home on Wednesday, the same day closing arguments in his trial were scheduled to begin, officials said.
David Michael Bruce, 68, faced eight felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14 and two felony counts of lewd acts on a child age 14 or 15, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Concluding statements for his 11-day trial were set to start the morning his remains were discovered inside his residence, prosecutors said.
The cause of his death is pending the results of an autopsy, but officials suspect suicide, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun.
Bruce allegedly sexually assaulted six boys, ages 11 to 14, between August 1996 and June 2011.
He worked as a drama teacher at Sycamore Junior High School in Anaheim. After retiring in 2010, the school employed him as a substitute teacher through 2013.
“The defendant is accused of committing multiple lewd acts upon the victims, including touching the victims’ genitals and buttocks, and engaging in oral copulation with at least one victim,” the District Attorney’s Office said in a previous statement.
Bruce was arrested in September 2015, a month after a sibling of one of the victims’ alerted Anaheim police, prosecutors said at the time.
Officials released him the same day after he posted $100,000 bail.
Authorities detained him again three weeks later after more victims came forward, the District Attorney’s Office said. He was released on $1 million bail.
If he had been convicted, Bruce would have faced a maximum sentence of 125 years to life in state prison, prosecutors said previously.