A Southern California high school teacher was arrested Monday in connection with child pornography and molestation charges, prompting school officials to notify parents of the incident.
Ezequiel Barragan, 48, from Aliso Viejo and a Spanish teacher at Dana Hills High School in Orange County, is accused of engaging in "sexual relations with a male juvenile over the last two years," according to an Orange County Sheriff's Department news release.
Barragan was the target of "an ongoing child pornography investigation" that began in 2010. The investigation, led by the United States Postal Service, found information about the alleged sexual relationship with a minor and subsequently his arrest, according to the news release.
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He was arrested on suspicion of allegedly having lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under the age of 14 years old and possession of child pornography. The child was not a student at the high school where he taught.
School officials sent an email to parents Monday evening about the incident and followed up with a phone message Tuesday morning.
Barragan has worked for the Capistrano School District since 1998 and coached a variety of youth baseball teams over the last 20 years. The teacher coached sports and worked with foster children, meaning he had contact with numerous underage boys.
"It’s obviously very concerning to us," said Lt. Jeff Hallock of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. "All these organizations … he had contact with juvenile boys and so investigators do believe there may be other victims out there."
"All of our employees go through an extensive background check, Department of Justice fingerprinting and anything that would come up as a subsequent arrest would be reported to the school district," said Julie Hatchel, Capistrano Unified School District spokeswoman.
Barragan had no criminal record, Hatchel said.
He's been relieved of his position, pending the investigation. It was unclear if he was on paid or unpaid leave.
Counselors and psychologists were on campus Tuesday, available to any students that needed to talk.
Barragan was booked into an Orange County jail and is being held on a $500,000 bail.
He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.
Anyone with additional information is asked to call 714-647-7000.