Teen reaches deal in Fontana hazing case, will testify
An 18-year-old Fontana high school student facing assault and sex charges in connection with the alleged hazing of his classmates has agreed to a plea deal and will testify against his teacher, officials announced Monday.
Fernando Salgado agreed to plead guilty to attempted sexual penetration by a foreign object and assault with a deadly weapon in exchange for testimony against his teacher, 27-year-old Emmanuel De La Rosa, online records from the San Bernardino County district attorney's office showed.
Spokesman Christopher Lee said that if a judge determines Salgado's testimony is truthful, the sex count will be dropped, KTLA reported.
Salgado maintained his innocence outside the courthouse Monday, telling television reporters he only agreed to the deal because he was "scared for my life." He said a police officer told him he has "people trying to kill me."
"That's why I signed it," he said of the plea agreement. "I'm scared."
Authorities have remained tight-lipped about the investigation against Salgado and De La Rosa, a masonry teacher at A.B. Miller High School, who were arrested on June 23 along with three underage students amid allegations of a hazing incident during a summer school class taught by De La Rosa.
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.
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 Supt. 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.”
De La Rosa, who is on administrative leave, pleaded not guilty to five felony counts and a misdemeanor, including attempted sexual penetration with a foreign object and false imprisonment. He and Salgado are both due back in court July 24.
— Kate Mather