Parlier High basketball coach, Francisco Pena, arrested on sex charges

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Parlier police confirm they arrested Parlier Unified employee Francisco Pena on Saturday on charges of having sex with a minor and two other felony sex crimes.

Pena, 37, was the Parlier High School boys basketball coach last season.

He has also been active as a coach at the Parlier Youth Center.

A Parlier student who knew the man is stunned by the news, as Pena remains in jail for those charges.

"People are just extremely shocked," student Alejandra Leija said. "Especially the students."

She also volunteered at Youth Centers of America - a place where Pena worked as an activities coordinator - planning things like art classes and youth sporting leagues throughout the year for kids in the community.

"He was friendly, artistic -- I know he would help with the art right now," Leija said. "He was doing a mural. He would help the community with basketball and they were getting better at basketball as well."

Leija says she got to know Pena while working the scoreboard for a couple basketball games he organized.

And she says the news of him being arrested for having sex with a minor and two other felony sex crimes is surprising.

"I was just shocked about it because never really expected it and he just didn't seem like that type of guy especially with the incident that happened a couple years ago," he said.

Two years ago, Parlier High's boys basketball coach was Anthony Lepore, who was also arrested on charges of sex with a minor.

Lepore pleaded not guilty to the charges and is expected to go on trial in July.

But the PUSD is facing a civil lawsuit from the family of the victim in that case.

Action News reached out to the district for comment about Pena's arrest and was told to refer to this statement sent out.

In it, the superintendent writes, "The district continues to cooperate with law enforcement's investigation," and noting that, "The arrest has greatly impacted us all and particularly one student and her family."

That student Leija says should be respected if or when she returns to school.

"I know a lot of students want to find out who the girl is but I mean it's not our business," she said. "They should let the police do what they have to do."
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