AB Miller’s Adventures with Rebar!
By Jesse B. Gill
Fernando Salgado, an 18-year-old summer school student at Fontana’s AB Miller High School walked free this week, after spending a few weeks in jail. He’s accused of being involved in a bizarre hazing scandal at the school. And yes, that hazing did involve rebar
Salgado was a student in a masonry class taught by Emmanuel Delarosa, 28, of Rialto. Fontana police arrested both men (that’s right, though Salgado is still a student, he’s 18, which makes him an adult) June 23, along with three teenage boys who were also students in Delarosa’s class.
At first, Fontana police announced the five had been arrested because of several hazing assaults at AB Miller, but did not specify why. But as more details were uncovered, it quickly became clear that this wasn’t your good ol’ “stick-someone’s-head-in-the-toilet-and-flush-it” kind of hazing.
Police only said that Delarosa was arrested because he was aware of the hazing and in some instances, encouraged it.
An affidavit revealed that on June 21, the three teenage students (who will likely never be named because of their status as minors) held down an unnamed student, yanked his pants down while Salgado “attempted to force a piece of rebar into (the victim’s) anus.”
Also alleged was a similar incident on June 14 where everything was the same except that it was a different student victim and Salgado used a broom handle, instead of rebar.
When police first made their arrests, they mentioned that Delarosa was well aware of the assaults and even used them as a way to deal with certain disciplinary issues in the classroom.
Though the affidavit does not allege that Delarosa physically took part in any of the forcing of the rebar into places it shouldn’t go, prosecutors are certainly charging him as if he had.
He pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted sexual penetration of a minor with a foreign object (rebar!), false imprisonment, willful cruelty to a child with possibility of injury or death, and failure to report suspected child abuse. In years past, that last count might have slid by unnoticed, but post Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal, failing to report child abuse is a huge no-no.
No longer can teachers or coaches or any other authority figures get away with the “I didn’t know what to do,” defense when it comes to people sexually abusing children (and yes, teenagers count as children). And since Delarosa never reported that an 18-year-old student was trying to force rebar (rebar!) into the rear ends of his other students, the DA’s Office is prosecuting the teacher as if he were the guy doing the shoving.
And Salgado? The actual guy who did the shoving? The book won’t be thrown nearly as hard at him as long as he keeps his word.
Salgado— who originally pleaded not guilty to two counts each of sexual penetration with a foreign object on a child under 14, false imprisonment and one count of assault with a deadly weapon (rebar!)—changed his tune this week, appearing in court June 16 and signing a plea agreement. In the document, Salgado pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual penetration of a minor with a foreign object and assault with a deadly weapon (rebar!).
In return, the court will stay a four-year prison sentence and at the conclusion of the case, Salgado will have to serve 180 days in jail on weekends, with 24 days time served, said Christopher Lee, spokesman for the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. But for now, Salgado is free.
But there’s a catch.
All of the provisions laid out in Salgado’s plea deal hinge on his testimony against Delarosa. If a judge finds Salgado’s testimony to be truthful, the sex charge against him will be dropped completely, Lee said. The teen will have to serve three years’ probation, but he won’t have to register as a sex offender.
I asked Lee if prosecutors planned to offer Delarosa a plea bargain but he refused to make any kind of comment that would tip off how the DA’s office plans to handle the case. Though plea deals are common, particularly in sexual abuse cases, it seems unlikely that prosecutors would offer Delarosa that option, seeing as though the bargain they offered Salgado is based on the teen testifying against the teacher in court.
(An interesting side note: Delarosa is represented by Grover Porter, the same attorney who represented retired Redlands police lieutenant Bill Cranfill after he was accused of molesting his teenage stepdaughter in May 2010. Cranfill eventually took a plea bargain, accepting five years of felony probation and a year in county jail in exchange for a guilty plea on one count of lewd acts with a child under 14.)
We don’t know (and likely won’t) what charges, if any, the involved teenage boys are facing. Because of their ages, prosecutors are prohibited by the state from releasing any details involving them or what punishment they may face.
Delarosa is due next in court July 24 for a pre-preliminary hearing, which is a fancy way of saying, “lawyers will show up and talk about how prepared they are for a preliminary hearing.” (The actual preliminary hearing should be pretty interesting. That’s when we’ll hear Salgado testify against Delarosa for the first time.)
Salgado is also due in court July 24, for a sentencing hearing.
Fontana Unified placed Delarosa on unpaid administrative leave almost immediately following his arrest. It would make sense that he may turn back to the construction trades in which he reportedly has a lot experience, if he’s looking to make some extra scratch.
Here’s hoping he remembers how to use rebar correctly.
Check “The Watch Dog” by Jesse B. Gill every Friday for the latest (and greatest) behind-the-scenes crime coverage in the Inland Empire.