A one-time Vista High School basketball coach accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a female student pleaded not guilty in court Thursday.
Charlie Mercado, 36, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of annoying or molesting a child. He posted the $100,000 bail when first taken into custody and is out on bail.
The case surfaced on May 11 when the victim, a high school junior, told a campus administrator she had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with the coach, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Investigators said Mercado pursued an intimate relationship with the teen and, on one occasion, met her off school grounds for inappropriate physical contact.
Mercado was the school's walk-on boys basketball varsity coach from August 2005 to May 2016, according to the Vista Unified School District. He also was a substitute teacher from August 2005 to February 2008.
Mercado is no longer an employee of the school, as of May of this year, the school district reported on Thursday.
He surrendered to authorities in July when he learned a warrant had been issued for his arrest.
Mercado is due back in court on Sept. 27 at 8:30 a.m.
Detectives are continuing to investigate the case. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477 and be eligible for a $1,000 reward.