A 24-year-old soccer coach at the Coachella Valley Unified School District was arrested Thursday on suspicion of inappropriately touching several students while on the job, becoming the latest district employee to be accused of having inappropriate relationships with underage students in recent months.
Salton City resident Juan Manuel Pantoja Troncoso was taken into custody “at his place of employment” in the 81000 block of Indio Boulevard in Indio Thursday morning and was booked at the Indio jail on suspicion of committing of lewd acts with multiple minors, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
On Feb. 21, sheriff’s investigators began looking into an allegation that a contract employee who coached soccer for the district’s After School Education and Safety, or ASES, program, had “inappropriately touched several students on multiple occasions,” according to a sheriff’s statement.
Investigators determined that Troncoso had allegedly touched multiple students who were under 14 years old during on-campus soccer coaching sessions.
The school or schools involved were not disclosed, and sheriff’s officials did not provide information about the alleged victims, including genders or ages.
CVUSD Superintendent Maria Gandera said Troncosco was “immediately released from his contract” after district officials learned of the allegations.
“When the school district became aware of these allegations, we immediately contacted law enforcement,” Gandera wrote in a email. “The district has been cooperating with their investigation and working with them ever since.”
Gandera did not respond to questions about the alleged school or schools involved.
Anyone with information about Troncoso was asked to call sheriff’s Investigator Damen Butvidas at 760-863-8942.
Troncoso is the third Coachella Valley Unified School District employee to be accused of having inappropriate relationships with students in recent months.
Jose Luis Moncada, a school bus driver for the district, pleaded not guilty earlier this month to eight counts of committing lewd acts with a child under 14 years old stemming from allegations that he inappropriately touched several students while on the job in 2010, according to the sheriff’s department.
The felony complaint filed by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office lists three students, all girls, as victims.
Because the crimes allegedly involved multiple victims, the 63-year- old Desert Hot Springs resident could face a life sentence if convicted, district attorney’s spokesman John Hall said previously.
Moncada remains in custody on $1 million bail and is scheduled to return to court on March 27 for a felony settlement conference, when bail will also be reassessed.
The investigation into Moncada began last October when a former student contacted the school district to report alleged incidents that occurred a decade ago.
Moncada was a school district employee as recently as October when the student made the initial complaint, the district superintendent confirmed at the time of his arrest, but his current employment status was unclear.
The district released a statement following Moncada’s arrest, confirming that a former student made the complaint last fall, but that the student did not identify the bus driver allegedly responsible.
“The district was unaware of any allegations before October 2019,” according to the statement. “Upon receiving the report, the district immediately contacted Child Protective Services and law enforcement.”
Another CVUSD employee, 25-year-old Coachella resident Edward Noel Alvarado Valadez, was arrested last December on suspicion of engaging in an “inappropriate relationship” with a student.
Sheriff’s officials alleged that Valadez pursued a female student at Coachella Valley High School “through various social media apps.”
Valadez made bail following his arrest, and has not been charged to date by prosecutors.