Sanger teacher facing rape charge

FRESNO, Calif.

Action News broke the story of accusations that 48-year-old Sergio Heredia attacked a 17-year-old girl who worked at a restaurant he owns.

Police say the crime happened at the Sports Bistro Monday night.

Just a few hours later, officers served warrants at the restaurant and at Heredia's home, where they arrested him.

A loud knock on the door early Tuesday morning started a shock wave that rippled throughout Sanger.

"My mom, she heard a banging at 2 in the morning," said Marlene Rodriguez, who lives next door to Heredia. "She's like, 'What?' and then they go, 'Police department. Get down.' I was like, 'Oh my gosh.'"

Rodriguez says her neighbor was a quiet and polite man.

Rodriguez knew he was a longtime Sanger High School social studies teacher, and although she never had him as a teacher before she graduated, she heard nothing but good reports.

So when her family watched police arrest him on charges that he raped a teenage girl, it came as a big shock.

"Because I wouldn't believe it because he was a teacher and he's like... probably because we don't believe teachers would do that," Rodriguez said.

The charges also jolted Heredia's business neighbors in downtown Sanger -- one of whom talked to us on the condition we don't identify her.

"I can say I never saw anything inappropriate, never thought of him like that," the woman said. "I would even pop my head in and say 'Hi. How are you?', but never thought of him like that. But it really makes me sad."

Sanger police tell Action News they collected potential DNA evidence at Heredia's restaurant and home.

They say the victim worked at the restaurant and was alone with Heredia at closing time Monday.

She reported the crime shortly afterwards.

Investigators are now checking to see if she's the only victim.

"We don't know that yet," said Sanger police chief Tom Klose. "We're hoping we can get, if there are any other victims, that they'll come forward."

Sanger High School is closed for the holiday week, but the superintendent says teachers charged with serious crimes are typically placed on administrative leave while police investigate.

The alleged victim is a high school student, but not at Sanger High.

Heredia has three prior DUIs and three children, including a daughter who's older than the victim.

Their mother officially divorced Heredia in April.

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