A 32-year-old elementary school teacher is accused of starting a sexual relationship with a boy who was in her sixth grade class. Police say now, four years later, the child has come forward with details of the relationship.
Chula Vista police arrested Carmina Lopez, 32, Wednesday night in Middletown after a tip from Child Protective Services.
According to investigators, Lopez was a sixth-grade teacher at Nestor Elementary School when the sexual relationship began in 2004. The victim was a member of her class, according to investigators.
Lopez faces a litany of criminal charges including 40 counts of lewd act with a child, 40 counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, continuous sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 years of age, sexual battery, cruelty to a child, annoying or molesting a child under 18 years of age and 11 counts of failure to report child abuse when you are a mandated reporter.
The acts occurred at school, in Lopez's home and in a car in both Chula Vista and San Diego because the suspect lived in both cities over the last four years, police said. The victim, who is now 15, said the last incident happened in early 2008, police said.
"The child is suffering from psychological issues and is being seen by a counselor. And some of that information came out during a session," said CVPD Sgt. Juan Cervantes.
Lopez became friends with the victim's family and ultimately was asked to become the victim's godmother, according to investigators.
She was booked into the Chula Vista Jail and transported to the Las Colinas Women's Detention facility. She is being held without bail and may be arraigned Friday afternoon.
“We are confident that Miss Lopez was involved in this case and will ultimately be able to show in court that she is the suspect that is involved in these acts," said Chula Vista Police Chief Rick Emerson.
Since the alleged relationship began, Lopez has begun teaching at Sunnyslope School. Parents and residents outside the school reacted to news of the arrest Thursday. While some were angry over the allegations, one parent wanted investigators to provide proof before she believes the accusations.
“I think it’s sad that someone can say anything about a person and your character is tarnished,” said Nicole Williams. “We support her. I want her to know that.”
“Knowing the type of person that she is, I’m not concerned for my daughter,” Williams said.
Officials from the South Bay Unified School District released a statement on Thursday morning.
"Carmina Lopez, fifth grade teacher at Sunnyslope School has been arrested on very serious charges. The police department is continuing in its investigation. Our district is fully cooperating with the police in their efforts. Ms. Lopez will be on mandatory leave pending the processing of these charges. In the meantime we will continue our diligent focus on teaching and learning," the statement said.
Lopez is the mother of a 4-year-old son who is in the custody of Child Protective Services.