A walk-on assistant football coach at Mar Vista High School pleaded not guilty Thursday for numerous charges related to an alleged ongoing inappropriate relationship with a freshman student.
Edward Aaron Mendoza, 27, is facing 20 charges related to the alleged relationship, which San Diego County District Attorney Carolyn Matzger said began when the victim was 13 years old.
He could spend a maximum of 20 years and eight months in prison if convicted of the charges.
At his arraignment Thursday, an attorney for Mendoza pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The relationship came to light when the victim's father learned his daughter was talking to Mendoza on the phone for long periods of time, San Diego County Sheriff's officials (SDSO) said Tuesday.
"Detectives discovered Mendoza had fostered an ongoing relationship with the victim and engaged in sexual activity with her at school over a period of about six months," the SDSO said in a statement Tuesday.
Matzger said Mendoza allegedly touched the victim inappropriately and sent her pictures of his genitals. She alleged he sent her inappropriate videos though the social media app Snapchat and asked the victim to do the same for her.
The incidents began in September 2015 and continued to February 2016, Matzger said. SDSO investigators said that relationship had allegedly been going on for months and did not include intercourse.
Mendoza was arrested at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday outside his workplace in the City of Chula Vista, San Diego Sheriff's officials said.
Monday, a Navy Junior ROTC instructor at the Imperial Beach high school, was arrested. On Wednesday, SDSO officials announced a tutor at the school had been arrested for sex crimes, the third such announcement in three days.
Manny Rubio, a spokesman with the Sweetwater Union High School District, said school district officials met with Mar Vista HS's principal and staffers about a path forward. District officials are also planning to meet with 25-30 student leaders, club leaders, academic leaders and athletes to talk about the cases and offer advice to students.
Rubio said the three cases do not appear to be related, calling it an "unfortunate coincidence."
Mendoza was held on $900,000 bail. A protective order was issued. He will appear in court on May 26 for a preliminary hearing.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Sheriff's Child Abuse Unit at (858) 974-2310. If you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477 with information. You may be eligible for up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to a felony arrest.