Tulare teacher appears in court for sex crimes

TULARE COUNTY, Calif.

/*Juan Carlos Tafolla*/ was surrounded by family members as he entered a Visalia courtroom on Thursday morning. The former Tulare High School teacher said very little to the judge as he agreed to move his next hearing to the end of this month.

The 39-year-old was first arrested in September after investigators discovered material they say showed a minor involved in a sexual act. He wasn't formally charged with any crimes until February. Now the former Mission Oak High School teacher faces four felony charges for having sex with a minor.

For the last five months, investigators worked closely with the Tulare Police Department to obtain the evidence they needed to prosecute him.

The Tulare County Asst. District Attorney, Shani Jenkins said, "If the investigation is ongoing we will choose to hold off on filing the charges until that investigation is complete."

Juan Carlos Tafolla's attorney, Mark Coleman said, "This has been a very stressful time he's of course concerned about the nature of these charges."

In court , Tafolla's attorney said they had not received all of the information he needs from the district attorney's office and asked that the case's next hearing be delayed another month. Prosecutors say the evidence would be hand-delivered to them by the end of the week.

Jenkins said, "Anytime you're dealing with technology, cell phones things like that, discovery can be very voluminous."

Tafolla's attorney, Mark Coleman, says the former teacher is not guilty. "Carlos was a wonderful teacher he misses teaching we have numerous parents and students and other educators who are all 100% behind Carlos."

Prosecutors are still not sure if the victim in this case will testify at a pre-trial hearing expected as early as April.

Tafolla faces up to 5 years in prison if convicted on all the charges.

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