Parents questioned school leaders and police about background checks and their children’s safety during a meeting late this afternoon after Tracy police arrested a substitute teacher on charges that he touched students inappropriately and looked at child pornography.
Jesse Llorente III, 39, stands accused of eight counts of lewd acts on a child and one count of possession of child pornography. He was arrested at his Ramona Way home this morning.
A school psychologist will meet with students at Kelly School, where Llorente had worked as a substitute teacher on Feb. 26 and 27 in the fifth and sixth grades.
The Tracy native was booked at the San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp and is held on $624,000 bail.
Parents complained to Principal Khushwinder Gill that the sub had allegedly stroked the hair and shoulders of at least eight of his students, all girls.
Gill called police, who then confronted Llorente and issued a search warrant, Tracy police Sgt. Tony Sheneman said.
The teacher admitted on the spot that he had looked at child porn a few times, police said. Sheneman said Llorente also admitted that he gets sexually aroused when he strokes the hair and shoulders of some of his students. Touching a child in that way rises to the level of molestation, Sheneman said.
“It does fit penal code definition of child molestation,” Sheneman said. “You could probably call it inappropriate touching.”
In response to the complaints from several parents, police issued a search warrant and seized Llorente’s laptop, on which police said they found child pornography.
Tracy police Det. Nate Cogburn said that he’s convinced Llorente’s intent when he allegedly touched his students “was unnatural, that his intent was sexual in nature.”
Llorente has not worked since the investigation began last month and isn’t allowed to set foot on school property. Llorente did pass a background check, and he was paid $3,862.17 by Tracy Unified for substitute teaching, said district superintendent James Franco.
Franco sent a letter to Kelly School parents today, inviting them to attend one of two meetings about the arrest. The first meeting took place at 4:30 p.m. today and the second will be at 4:30 p.m. Friday, both in the Kelly School library.
“This is unacceptable behavior,” Franco said today at a press conference. “And we appreciate that this was brought to our attention so promptly.”
Police said Llorente has worked as a substitute teacher for schools in Los Angeles and San Jose in years past. He had worked since 2005 as a sub for Tracy Unified. Investigators are trying to find out if he had worked at any other schools.
Tracy’s personnel department confirmed that Llorente was employed by the city between February 1996 and July 2000 but refused to disclose what position he held. Cogburn said Llorente had coached a youth sports team and had been involved in other children’s activities for more than a decade.
Vanessa, 28 — who asked to withhold her last name — said she worked for the city 13 years ago as an employee at a summer youth day camp. She said Llorente worked as a supervisor for one of the age groups.
Vanessa said Llorente used to play with her hair and stroke her shoulders. She last saw him a few months ago at a children’s birthday party, where she said he greeted her with the same gesture.
“I suspect that there are other victims in other school districts,” said Cogburn, adding that he hopes the publicity will embolden other victims to come forward.
Llorente grew up in Tracy and graduated from Tracy High School in 1988. Police said he has never been married and has no children of his own.
His arraignment is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Manteca branch courthouse. Police said that the courts this afternoon sealed everything in the case except a search warrant.
Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call Det. Nate Cogburn at 831-6617.
• Contact Tracy Press reporter Jennifer Wadsworth at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.