Mendota School District employee sentenced for sexual contact with 16-year-old boy

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Friday, September 2, 2022
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A Mendota School District employee who had sexual contact with a 16-year-old student has received her sentence.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A judge sent a former Mendota High School teacher's aide to jail Thursday for her sex crime with a 16-year-old student.

Veronica Lopez had a singular focus as she faced a judge for punishment in her child sex crimes case.

"My girls are everything to me and I push every day to be a better person and a better mother despite everything that's happened," she said.

The 44-year-old worked as a teacher's aide at Mendota High School, where the victim went to school.

RELATED: Mendota School District employee arrested for sexual relationship with teenage boy

Prosecutors say the Firebaugh resident met the boy near his Mendota home in the summer of 2019 and she initiated sexual contact.

He ran away afterwards.

Lopez texted an apology the next day, but prosecutors say the boy is still traumatized and he dropped out of school because of her crime.

She never mentioned him in her comments to the judge.

"I find it interesting how given the opportunity to speak right now, she spoke about her daughters but not about any remorse for the actions of what she did to a 16-year-old child," said prosecutor Kristin Maxwell.

Lopez had a few people supporting her in court, including a family friend who said he never saw this coming.

"I don't know what happened," said Pedro Falcon through a Spanish interpreter. "She was a good mother."

Judge Wayne Ellison acknowledged a possible contributing factor: Lopez suffered her own sexual trauma as a teenager.

"I don't believe it's a coincidence that your alleged sexual crimes here mirror your own victimization when you were 14 and 15 years old," Judge Ellison said

But the judge said Lopez took advantage of her position of trust. So, he decided she deserved some jail time.

Judge Ellison sentenced Lopez to 180 days in jail, two years on probation, and she has to register as a sex offender.

He also ordered her to continue psychological treatment.