FONTANA, Calif. — A masonry teacher and one of his students were charged Tuesday with sex crimes that authorities said were part of brutal hazing intended to maintain order in a California summer school classroom.
The San Bernardino County district attorney's office charged teacher Emmanuel De La Rosa with false imprisonment and attempted sexual penetration by a foreign object in the case of two victims, at least one of whom was a minor. De La Rosa, 27, also was charged with child abuse and failure to report child abuse.
De La Rosa's student at A.B. Miller High School in Fontana, 18-year-old Fernando Salgado, was charged with attempted sexual penetration by a foreign object and false imprisonment.
Salgado was being held on $100,000 bail and was set to be arraigned Wednesday. De La Rosa has been released since his arrest last weekend and was scheduled for arraignment Aug. 27.
Fontana police said three boys were attacked in separate incidents in De La Rosa's summer school class. A total of five people – including three students who are minors – were arrested in the investigation.
"They would assault the other kids to basically maintain order in the classroom on their own," said Fontana police Sgt. Robert Morris. "The teacher at some point became aware of the situation, and knew about what was occurring and in one incident may have actually directed them to do it."
One of the victims suffered minor injuries. Morris declined to detail the nature of the assaults, citing the ongoing investigation.
De La Rosa, who was released Sunday, has been placed on administrative leave at the school about 50 miles east of Los Angeles. He could not be reached for comment.
Salgado's sister, Krista Hernandez, said police came to her house over the weekend looking for her brother. She found him with friends and they went to the police station together to see if they could answer officers' questions when he was arrested.
Hernandez, 28, said he was in shock when she told him about the allegations.
"He started to cry to me saying he didn't do these things, and all he wants is to come home," Hernandez said, adding that he needs to finish coursework during summer school to graduate from high school.
Hernandez said she believes the allegations will eventually be dropped against her brother, and she speculated they might stem from horseplay that got out of hand when someone got hurt.
"He's definitely a jokester, he's definitely someone who might mess around here and there, crack jokes in class, probably things a lot of kids do but nothing in the nature of what they're saying," she said.
The investigation began Friday when a victim reported one of the incidents to the Fontana school police, who referred the case to the city's police department.
The school has assigned an assistant principal to take De La Rosa's place for the last week of a five-week summer session, and professional counselors have been sent to the campus, said Fontana Unified School District Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks.
"We're all taken aback, most definitely," she said, adding that the teacher was very popular with students at the school.
De La Rosa, a trained bricklayer, did his apprenticeship and worked at Winegardner Masonry in the nearby town of Yucaipa, said Julie Salazar, the company president. He left the company four years ago to become a teacher, she said.
"He always was a respectful person, so it comes as beyond a shock," Salazar said. "That doesn't reflect anything at all about how we knew him here."