Former Visalia middle school employee charged with sex crimes

A former Visalia Unified employee is locked up right now, facing several charges of molestation on a middle school campus.
March 24, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
A former Visalia Unified School District employee is locked up right now, facing several charges of molestation on the Valley Oak Middle School campus.

Luis Francisco Lopez, 25, is facing sex crimes charges. Police say for nearly a year he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student. Lopez is being held on a $2.1 million bail.

Police say up until now Lopez had no problems with the law. But they say that changed last Wednesday when police were tipped off about the sexual relationship with the young student. Investigators say Lopez became close with the victim on the Valley Oak campus, where he committed the crimes for nearly a year.

"Some people just don't have the right mentality for kids," said Valley Oak parent Robert Velasquez. "You don't know what kind of people work here. So, everybody seems real nice and friendly, especially having your kids around them. To find out something like this, it's pretty bad."

The Visalia Police Department says its officers on the campus began investigating the case last Wednesday.

"The information that we have is that it did take place at the school," said Lt. Candido Alvarez. "I cannot release any other additional information if there were other locations. What we have ? what we do not have is information leading us to believe there are other victims at the school."

We're told Lopez worked with VUSD for about two-and-a-half years. Superintendent Craig Wheaton says Lopez had a lot of contact with students as a campus supervisor. But there were no problems with him as an employee before. Lopez left his job a few weeks ago.

"He resigned from the district, giving other reasons, prior to us knowing anything about any investigation going on," said Wheaton.

There is no word on how the victim is doing right now. But the superintendent says action is being taken to see if future crimes can be prevented.

"We review all of our policies, procedures and ensure we're doing everything possible to keep our students safe," said Wheaton.

The district says Lopez underwent the same, thorough, background checks as other district employees. Lopez lives in Dinuba, where neighbors were are also stunned by the arrest. They tell Action News Lopez is married and expecting his first child. He'll have his first court appearance on Wednesday.


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