Police detective testifies against Visalia middle school employee accused of sex crimes

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Luis Lopez, 29, faces numerous felony charges for the crimes, which allegedly took place on the school grounds of Valley Oak Middle School more than three years ago. (KFSN)

The trial for a former school district employee accused of sexually abusing two students entered its second week Monday.

Luis Lopez, 29, faces numerous felony charges for the crimes, which allegedly took place on school grounds more than three years ago.

The judge allowed audio and pictures for the Lopez trial Monday but no video. The alleged victim was under the age of 14 when, in February of 2014, she says Lopez touched her inappropriately.

She says she didn't report the abuse until after he was arrested for allegedly abusing another student because she feared he might be released from custody and return to his job as a campus supervisor at Valley Oak Middle School.

Visalia police detective Matt Jones was a youth services officer at the time and interviewed the first alleged victim in March of 2014.

"She didn't want herself or Mr. Lopez to get into trouble," he told the court.

In their first interview, she initially denied any inappropriate acts with Lopez, dismissing the allegations as rumors. In their second interview, with her parents present, the alleged victim admitted to allegations listed in a suspected child abuse report.

"So, you told her what was in the scar report right off the bat, so to speak?" a lawyer asked Jones.

"Yes, I had to confirm the report," he replied.

"Is that the way you were trained to do an investigation of this nature, Officer Jones?"

"Yes."

"You're supposed to tell the kid what happened and then have them validate it?"

During her eight grade year at Valley Oak, Lopez allegedly pulled her out of class multiple times and molested her inside the Bronco Room on campus, and had sex with her twice - including once when she was a freshman at neighboring Golden West High School.

Lopez faces 21 years in prison if convicted of all the charges. The trial will continue on Tuesday.

Related Topics:
newschild abusetulare countycourtVisalia
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