Breaking News Blog

Tuesday, Apr 02 2013 02:13 PM

Garces baseball coach accused of sex with minor

BY COURTENAY EDELHART Californian staff writer cedelhart@bakersfield.com

An assistant baseball coach at Garces Memorial High School was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of having unlawful sexual relations with a minor and sexual exploitation of a child, both felonies.

Jon Aleczander Sweet, 25, was arrested and booked into the Central Receiving Facility on $67,500 bail Tuesday after a 17-year-old girl told authorities she had been having a sexual relationship with Sweet for three months.

The Bakersfield Police Department alleges that an investigation found Sweet had several nude photos of the juvenile in his possession.

Garces, a private Catholic school, referred calls about the matter to the Diocese of Fresno, which has jurisdiction over Kern County.

Diocese Chancellor Teresa Dominguez declined an interview request Tuesday. She issued a statement saying she could not comment "due to the sensitive nature of this situation, legal restrictions regarding personnel issues, and law enforcement's ongoing investigation."

The statement went on to say students' parents have been notified, and counselors are available for students who would like to talk about the issue. Diocesan Safe Environment Manager and Victim Assistance Coordinator Cheryl Sarkisian is also available to offer help, the statement said.

Police weren't saying whether the victim was a student at Garces or someone Sweet knew outside of school.

It wasn't immediately clear how long Sweet had worked at Garces, but he was referred to as an employee in the diocese's statement, as opposed to an unpaid volunteer. Sweet is described on the Garces website as an assistant junior varsity baseball coach.

He has no criminal record in Kern County, according to the Kern County Superior Court website.

Garces was rocked by a similar scandal a few years ago.

Former teacher Marshall David Neal, 33, pleaded no contest to one felony count of having oral sex with a person under age 18 in 2008. Neal had taught at Garces for 10 years.

Bakersfield police spokeswoman Michaela Beard said authorities aren't aware of any other victims in the Sweet case, but, "as always with these sorts of cases, we would ask anyone else out there to come forward, because we can't do anything about it if we don't know about it."

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