Prosecution of teacher appears to be unlikely
For the third time in nine years, Ruben Castrejon, a Madera South High School teacher on paid administrative leave since May 2016, is the subject of a police investigation.
And for the third time in as many years, it appears that the instructor may not be charged with having unlawful sex with one of his former students, because the statute of limitations may have expired.
According to police reports, Castrejon was first investigated in 2007 for unlawful sex with a minor, and in 2012, he was investigated for child molestation. In both cases, he was alleged to have had unlawful sex with one of his students, but the investigations hit a dead end because the victims refused to cooperate.
In the aftermath of an appearance in May 2016 by a former Madera South High School student who alleges she was the victim of illegal sexual activity perpetrated against her by Castrejon, Madera police named him as the subject of the third investigation.
Castrejon is alleged to have impregnated the teenage student and coerced her into having an abortion. The student is now in her 30’s and has been interviewed by investigators.
Another former student of Castrejon’s, Oyuki Rubi, supported the charges against her former teacher and identified another of his intended victims.
In a telephone interview with The Tribune on May 25, 2016, Rubi, an intended victim herself, confirmed the charges against Castrejon. The 30-year-old mother of three said the victim was her best friend and that she had driven the teenager to the teacher’s apartment several times for rendezvous.
Rubi said when she found out her friend was pregnant, she made the call to inform the teacher herself. Rubi said the teacher’s response was to insist on an abortion, citing the fact that he was a teacher and “could get into trouble.”
“You have to help us,” the teacher implored, according to Rubi.
Rubi said the victim refused to speak to police about the issue at the time because she didn’t want her parents to find out. However, after the death of both parents, Rubi says the victim decided to come forward.
The Tribune has copies of the 2007 and the 2012 police reports relating to Castrejon and his alleged illegal sexual activities. It has requested a copy of the 2016 police report.
In July 2007, Castrejon was investigated for unlawful sex with a minor. His address on the police report is the same address to which Rubi said she took the victim for their rendezvous.
The 2007 police report states the teacher, “from approximately August 1999 to the year 2003, had a sexual relationship with a high school student from the time (redacted) was a ninth grader until (redacted) she graduated.”
The report goes on to state, “There was also some indication in this investigation that the teacher, …is currently interested in and is pursuing another (redacted) student.”
The police report went on to state, “There was some indication that the two (teacher and student victim) may have had sex during the lunch hour at school. (redacted) would enter (the teacher’s) homeroom during lunch. (The teacher) would draw the curtains and put a paper over the small window of the locked door.
The investigating officer concludes with the recommendation that the report be forwarded to detectives for review and follow up investigation.
Police records do not show subsequent action in the case.
The second police report suggests Castrejon may have been continuing a pattern of illegal sexual activities with minors.
In May 2012, Castrejon was investigated by Madera police for “Annoy/Molest Child.” Once again the investigation appears to have hit a dead end when the alleged victim “did not want to discuss the incident.”
The third investigation of Castrejon, and one that resulted in his being put on paid administrative leave, came after a May 2016 board meeting when former Madera South teacher Leslie Swan publicly accused Castrejon of illicit sex with students.
Subsequent to Swan’s public statement, the victim came forward and gave her statement to police and the school district.
Responding to an inquiry from The Tribune, Detective Sergeant Johnnie C. Smith acknowledged that Castrejon was under investigation...”
Smith also advised, “The school district (MUSD) may be conducting their own internal investigation, so you may want to contact them...”
When contacted by The Tribune, Superintendent Ed Gonzalez expanded on an earlier press release and said, “The teacher in question has been put on paid leave.”
Gonzalez added, “Madera Unified is conducting a personnel investigation that was initiated by Ms. (Leslie) Swan’s allegations.”
A whirlwind of investigative activity began the day after Swan went public with her charges. She alerted The Tribune that one of Castrejon’s alleged victims was going to make a statement the next day to Madera Unified and the Madera Police Department concerning illegal sexual conduct by the teacher.
When contacted by The Tribune at 8 o’clock the next morning, Swan said she was on her way with the alleged victim to the Madera Unified District office. At 1 p.m. Thursday, Swan gave the following account of the morning’s activities.
Swan says she arrived at MUSD’s district office shortly after 8:30 a.m. with the former student and an adult friend of the student’s. According to Swan, they were invited to a conference room where Chief Academic Officers Todd Lile and Elizabeth Runyon, Rachel Donatelli, a program manager who serves students in need, and a person identified as the district’s investigator were assembled.
According to Swan, a period of cordial conversation ensued until an investigator from the Madera Police Department arrived. At that point, Swan says she departed, and the former student accompanied police to pursue the investigation.
On that evening, after numerous conversations with the victim, Swan told The Tribune that the former student had spent several hours during the day with the Madera police telling her story.
Swan says the former student remains firm in her conviction to cooperate in the investigation of Castrejon.
In response to an inquiry from The Tribune, Madera Police Sgt. Mark W. Trukki said the Castrejon case had been submitted to the Madera County District Attorney’s office in August 2016 and rejected because of the statute of limitations.
Madera Unified Superintendent Ed Gonzalez told The Tribune that he met with District Attorney David Linn in November 2016, to discuss the case and that they have another meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
According to Madera Unified, Castrejon has been continuously employed by Madera Unified as a teacher since 1998. Knowledgeable sources from Madera South informed The Tribune that Castrejon taught regular Spanish classes and Spanish for native speakers. He has been on paid administrative leave since May 2016, drawing his full pay and benefits.