The day after Fernando Salgado was released from jail after agreeing to testify against his former teacher in an alleged hazing scandal, the teacher’s family told NBC4 they don’t blame the 18-year-old high school student for accepting the plea deal.
"We’re a little shocked, but at the same time, we’re concerned for him," said Clarissa Tostado, sister-in-law of A.B. Miller High School teacher Emmanuel De La Rosa. "We’re not hateful people … we’re not here to bash anybody."
Prosecutors say De La Rosa knew about and in one case directed Salgado and other students to commit sexual hazing in his masonry classroom.
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The teacher’s family members said they’ve recently discovered that one of the two days the crimes allegedly happened; De La Rosa was out of town.
The family – defending De La Rosa’s innocence – said it’s weary of the prosecution’s case and see the plea deal as a sign of encouragement for their loved one.
"Why is it that he’s the one on the pedestal to be burned when he wasn’t the one who even physically they’re saying, physically did it?" Tostado said. "It’s only a matter of time for everything to fall apart."
Salgado; his 27-year-old teacher; and three underage students whose names were not released, were arrested in late June.
Prosecutors have accused Salgado of allegedly trying to force a piece of rebar into another student's anus. A similar incident allegedly involved a broom handle.
The teenager signed a plea agreement Monday – a decision Salgado told reporters was, in part, motivated by fear.
"I had people – a cop told me in the morning – people trying to kill me, that’s why I signed this," Salgado said outside the courthouse Monday afternoon.
In the agreement, Salgado pleaded guilty to one count each of attempted sexual penetration by a foreign object and assault with a deadly weapon, Christopher Lee, of the DA's office, wrote in an email to NBC4 Monday.
Salgado faces up to four years in prison; however the sentence will be "stayed as long as he testifies truthfully against Mr. De La Rosa," wrote Lee.
Pending his testimony, Salgado will then withdraw his plea on the attempted sexual penetration, leaving the assault charge.
"At this point, he would be placed on three years felony probation and do 180 days county jail on weekends," wrote Lee.