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Ex-Joshua Tree teacher accused of molesting boys, possibly for decades

August 17, 2012 | 10:09 am

A former Joshua Tree elementary school teacher and local church volunteer was arrested after admitting that he has been molesting boys, perhaps since the early 1980s, authorities said Friday.

Caleb Douglas Hesse, 52, disclosed the crimes to a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy on Wednesday, and may have been molesting boys "as recently as one week ago," according to a statement released by the Sheriff's Department.

Hesse until recently was a first-grade teacher at Friendly Hills Elementary School in Joshua Tree, and also served as a youth volunteer with the Evangelical Free Church in Yucca Valley, officials said. As a church volunteer, he was involved in a number of overnight outings with kids throughout California, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Detectives said they currently are trying to identify victims of the abuse, and that they believe most of them may have been involved with the church youth group. Some of the victims may now be 30 to 40 years old, investigators said.

Hesse was arrested on suspicion of committing a lewd and lascivious act with a child under 14, and is being held at the Morongo Basin Jail in lieu of $2.5-million bail. Arraignment in his case is scheduled for Friday afternoon in Morono Valley.

ALSO:

Evacuation orders lifted for wildfires in San Diego County

Earthquake: 3.0 quake strikes near town of Big Bear Lake

Higher humidity could bring rain to local mountains, valleys

-- Phil Willon in Riverside

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