Student accused in Fontana hazing case breaks down in court
An 18-year-old Fontana high school student broke down in court Thursday, where he was arraigned on sexual charges in connection with an alleged in-classroom hazing that also led to the arrests of a teacher and three other students.
Fernando Salgado pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted sexual penetration with a foreign object and false imprisonment and “erupted” when ordered to remain in jail until July 9, KTLA-TV reported.
“I want to go home so bad,” a tearful Salgado said as courtroom onlookers began protesting the order.
When deputies went to escort the handcuffed teenager from the room, he began to struggle.
“Let go of me,” he said.
Salgado and 27-year-old Emmanuel De La Rosa, a masonry teacher at A.B. Miller High School, were arrested along with three underage students Saturday amid allegations of a hazing incident during a summer school class taught by De La Rosa, Fontana police said.
A student victim contacted district police the day before the arrests and reported the alleged incident, launching an investigation by district officials and Fontana police.
De La Rosa faces two additional counts -- felony child abuse and misdemeanor failure to report suspected child abuse.
The alleged crimes, the documents said, include two victims: a 14-year-old boy assaulted June 21 and another boy, whose age was not known, on June 14.
Citing a police affidavit, the Press-Enterprise said the alleged victim of the June 21 assault told police three students held him down and pulled down his pants while Salgado “attempted to penetrate him with a piece of steel rebar.”
De La Rosa “was aware of multiple occurrences of similar behavior in his classroom,” the newspaper said, but did not report the incidents to law enforcement and “often encouraged the behaviors.”
The second victim came forward during the police investigation and reported a similar incident with Salgado and the three other students — only this time, the victim said Saldago tried to "force a wooden broom handle into his body," the newspaper said.
At least one of the victims suffered minor injuries, police said.
There was no indication, officials said, that other teachers or staff knew about the alleged incidents. Fontana Unified School District Superintendent Cali Olsen-Binks told The Times that De La Rosa, who substituted prior to his full-time hiring in 2009, was a “very popular” teacher who was “very successful with the students.”
She called the news “gut-wrenching and disheartening.”
“Our whole staff is in shock,” Olsen-Binks said. “Everybody is taken aback.”
De La Rosa is on administrative leave, Olsen-Binks said. He has been released from jail since his arrest last weekend and is set to appear in court for arraignment in August.
— Kate Mather