More officers, principal testify in trial of former school employee accused of sex abuse

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Another Visalia police officer gave testimony Tuesday in the case of Luis Lopez. (KFSN)

Another Visalia police officer gave testimony Tuesday in the case of Luis Lopez. The former Valley Oak Middle School campus supervisor is accused of molesting two female students more than three years ago, and faces more than 21 years in prison if convicted of all 15-felony counts.

In February of 2014, Lopez allegedly touched a 13-year-old girl inappropriately while they were alone in the nurse's office.

"Did she say that Mr. Lopez told her that she was really pretty and beautiful?" Lopez's defense attorney asked. "Yes," responded Visalia Police Sgt. Chris Jennings. "And did she say that this made her feel weird?" "Yes," Jennings said. "And did she say that she's not used to that, especially by someone older?" "She did," Jennings said.

The girl said she told her mother about the abuse the day it allegedly happened, but she didn't believe her.

The girl eventually reported the alleged abuse to school authorities after Lopez was arrested in March of 2014.

"She said she was scared and cried her eyes out thinking she was going to be out," Jennings said.

Lopez allegedly pulled the first victim out of class multiple times during her 8th grade year, and molested her inside the Bronco room-a game room on the school's campus.

"Mr. Lopez, in his role, as campus supervisor, is part of the vigilance team?" Lopez's defense attorney asked. "Yes," responded Valley Oak Principal Michael Hernandez. "So he would be aware of the seriousness, the gravitas of moving a child out of class for no apparent purpose, yes?" "He would be," Hernandez said.

The judge later told jurors to ignore these questions and answers. She also ruled the prosecution could not tell jurors about a conversation between Principal Hernandez and the youth services police officer who first investigated the case.

In that conversation, Hernandez reportedly told the officer that Lopez was once directed not to be overly friendly with students, due to some complaints.

Closing arguments in the case are expected to begin Wednesday.

Related Topics:
sex crimestulare countyvisaliaVisalia
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