Visalia school janitor accused of lewd acts with children

February 27, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Visalia community members are in disbelief after the arrest of a school janitor, accused of lewd acts with children.

Antonio Cordova, 30, is in jail after police say he inappropriately touched two students at the school where he worked.

Cordova was known to many at Oak Grove Elementary School as "Tony." We're told he was well-liked by parents and students. Many say they are surprised and disappointed by the charges.

Some parents were a bit anxious picking up their children from Oak Grove Elementary School on Wednesday, one day after a well-liked custodian on campus was arrested for inappropriately touching students. The charges are painting a dark cloud over the school.

One parent, Cheryl James told ABC30, "Very shocked because of the time that the children have in the classrooms shouldn't enable time with a custodian."

Visalia police arrested Cordova Tuesday night for two counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14.

Sgt. Amy Watkins said, "During interviews with two separate females one 8-years-old and one 10-year-old it was determined that there was some inappropriate contact."

The allegations came to light Monday after school when two students approached a teacher about uncomfortable touching by the custodian. School officials contacted the police to investigate.

Superintendent Craig Wheaton says the district made phone calls to parents about the investigation and counselors are available for students all week.

"Lewd conduct and my understanding of what happened isn't what perhaps some people are imagining," said Superintendent Wheaton. "It's serious we are concerned about the safety both physical and emotional of our students."

Many describe Cordova as helpful and popular with students, parents and staff. He's worked as a custodian at Oak Grove Elementary School for five years. Oak Grove is known for its impressive state rating and is the highest achieving school in Tulare County.

Parents say they're surprised by Cordova's arrest because he was even awarded recently by the PTA for being a hard worker.

Another parent, Dorothy Urena explained, "He always seemed to be there for all of us as far as setting up tables and chairs and preparing for big events performances they had here at the school."

The Visalia Police Department is concerned about any more possible victims and they're encouraging parents to talk their children about what happened.

Cordova is on administrative leave. If the DA officially files charges against him he could be arraigned as early as Thursday.


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