Sheriff's Office says 'arrest is imminent' in student-adult sexual exploitation case

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office reported late Friday afternoon that a person of interest has been identified in a case involving alleged sexual exploitation of high-school aged students in recent months by a local adult in the Mount Shasta and McCloud areas.

“Based on progress in the case, an arrest is imminent and should be made within the next few days,” the Sheriff’s Office states in a news release.

The Sheriff’s Office reported that its investigation “has revealed that no acts of sexual misconduct occurred at any area schools and no school district employees were implicated in any misconduct.”

The investigation began in September when the Mt. Shasta Police Department received reports that a local woman allegedly engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with students from the local high school at various off-site locations, according to the release.

MSPD Lieutenant Joe Restine said their records show they the initial case on Sept. 1 and "conducted initial investigation and interviews with multiple victims." On Sept. 9, they "determined that all allegations occurred outside the jurisdiction of the MSPD and met with a deputy from the Sheriff's Office to hand over the case."

Earlier Friday, Siskiyou Union High School District released the following statement issued by Superintendent Mike Matheson:

“We take allegations of misconduct against our students seriously and remain committed to ensuring that every student in our District is able to learn and thrive in a healthy, safe environment supported by the community. We will continue to follow District policies and procedures designed to protect students during this active investigation currently being handled by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office. We are working very closely with law enforcement while they lead the investigation. We understand and appreciate the community’s desire for more information. Out of respect for student privacy rights and the ongoing nature of the investigation, we will respectfully provide any additional information at a future date.”

The Sheriff’s Office said it conducted a series of interviews and “other activities” associated with the case Friday, Dec. 2, 2016, with assistance of the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations.

“The person of interest has been linked to allegations of serious acts of sexual misconduct with high school-aged students in Mt. Shasta – McCloud areas,” the Sheriff’s Office news release states.

The criminal charges identified and pending in the case, according to the Sheriff’s Office, include felony charges of engaging in inappropriate and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 18 by an adult.

According to the release, “Investigative information and evidence obtained by MSPD, SCSO, and district attorney investigators revealed that although the suspect encountered the students at a local business and later allegedly engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with the students, the illegal acts were found to have been perpetrated primarily in unincorporated areas of Siskiyou County.”

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office, has assumed lead investigative responsibility for the offenses alleged to have been committed, according to the release.

Sheriff Jon Lopey states in the release, “These types of investigations have a devastating and often traumatic impact on anyone connected to the case. We are working with the school district and other agencies, such as the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office, to do what is necessary to protect the victims and to ensure appropriate charges are filed in this case. Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact Detective Jesus Fernandez of the SCSO Major Crimes’ Unit by calling the 24-hour SCSO Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”