FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --A former elementary school janitor went to jail Monday on charges of sexually touching students.
Within the fences of Norseman Elementary School, a dirty little secret developed among students as young as 8. Girls eventually told their parents a janitor was grabbing them inappropriately.
Action News uncovered a search warrant in which investigators tally the touching by Benjamin Wong.
A few girls said Wong squeezed their back sides. A boy said Wong tried to kiss him. Investigators say Wong got a warning from the administration, but students reported Wong didn't stop. "He's a janitor, Your Honor," prosecutor Vanessa Wong said to Judge Jon Kapetan. "He's not supposed to be engaging in such inappropriate acts with these young children. And we believe he should be remanded. He's a serious danger to society."
The charges are only misdemeanors, but the prosecutor's argument about two years' worth of allegations of inappropriate touching convinced the judge to send Wong to jail.
A deputy cuffed the former janitor shortly after he pleaded not guilty. "I think the fact that he's done this, he's warned not to do it, and then he does it again says he may be a danger if he's not incarcerated," said ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi.
But while the warrant shows Wong admitted to slapping girls on the rear end, he told investigators the kids just misinterpreted his actions. And his defense attorney says, if Wong touched the kids, it was never sexual in nature. "At all relevant times, there were always multiple witnesses to these alleged touchings which will negate any sexual connotation," said defense attorney Roberto Dulce.
"Does that mean, legally, a janitor can just run around touching kids as long as they're not sexually interested?" an Action News reporter asked. "No no no no," Dulce said. "There could be a battery."
Wong bailed out of jail Monday afternoon.
He could go to trial as soon as next month and Capozzi says he probably isn't facing more than a year in jail if he's convicted. But he did quit his job with Fresno Unified after our first report last July.