Female cafeteria worker arrested for sex crimes against CHS student

A Claremont High School cafeteria worker has been arrested and charged with having sexual relations with a 16-year-old student.

Claremont police arrived at Claremont High School on Monday around 2:15 p.m. and arrested Vanessa Antonia Tinoco in the school administration building after someone who had become concerned about the interactions between the 33-year-old lunch lady and the male student alerted school authorities. After questioning, Ms. Tinoco admitted to the relationship. She did not resist arrest when police took her into custody.

According to Lieutenant Mike Ciszek with the Claremont Police Department, the Food Service Assistant had been communicating with the male student for approximately the last year and said she had sex once with the minor in an undisclosed location in the city of Pomona. The investigation remains ongoing.

On Wednesday, Ms. Tinoco was charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office with two felony counts: oral copulation of a person under 18 and unlawful sexual intercourse. The felony complaint states the alleged crimes took place on or between August 1, 2014 and October 7, 2014. The Pomona resident was scheduled to be arraigned in Department F of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Pomona Branch but the case was continued until October 14.

Ms. Tinoco’s bail has been set at $70,000 and she remains in custody at Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood.

An online records search reveals Ms. Tinoco has been employed within the Claremont Unified School District since at least September 2009, when she was hired as a Substitute Nutrition Services Assistant. It appears she has worked at both El Roble Intermediate School and Claremont High School as a food service employee.

Although Superintendent Jim Elsasser with the Claremont Unified School District (CUSD) was unable to confirm the details of Ms. Tinoco’s employment, he did release the following statement: “This is a confidential matter and we are not at liberty to discuss any specific details pertaining to this ongoing investigation. I can assure you that student safety is extremely important to us, and that we are taking appropriate steps to address this issue. We will continue to work closely with the Claremont Police Department and act within the law and our District’s board policies.”

Employees within the Claremont Unified School District are subject to extensive background checks with both the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations prior to employment.

“Any arrests from felony DUIs to a misdemeanor are flagged,” said Kevin Ward, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources with the CUSD. “Subsequently, employees are monitored during their employment and we’re notified of any arrests. We received a confirmation from Claremont police on Monday that the employee was arrested on campus.”

If convicted as charged, Ms. Tinoco faces a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison.

—Angela Bailey



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