Westlake High employee fired, arrested on suspicion of 'illicit' messages to student

  • In US
  • 2022-12-06 21:31:21Z
  • By VC Star | Ventura County Star
A view of Westlake High School in 2021 from the second story a building on campus.
A view of Westlake High School in 2021 from the second story a building on campus.  

The Conejo Valley Unified School District fired a Westlake High School employee after he was arrested last week on suspicion of sending "illicit" messages to a student at the school.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Office said school administrators reported the messages to law enforcement on Thursday. An investigation by a school resource officer and deputies found that the victim, a female juvenile, had received "numerous illicit images" from a 33-year-old male school employee. The man had allegedly sent the messages via social media.

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The employee, a Thousand Oaks resident, worked as a technical specialist in the school's theater department. A warrant search of his residence on Friday reportedly turned up information corroborating the victim's statement as well as a controlled substance.

The man was arrested Friday on suspicion of sending harmful or obscene matter to a minor and drug possession, according to booking records. He was released from county jail Saturday on bond.

Authorities believe there may be additional victims.

The suspect's name has been released by the sheriff's office and the school district, but as of midday Wednesday he had not been charged by the Ventura County District Attorney's office. The Star generally does not name suspects until they have been formally charged by prosecutors.

Joey Buttitta, a spokesman for the DA's office, said the case has yet to be handed to prosecutors to potentially file charges. If charged and convicted on sending harmful matter to a minor, the suspect could face up to five years in state prison, Buttitta said.

In a districtwide message emailed around 3 p.m. Monday, Superintendent Mark McLaughlin said the suspect worked for the school on an hourly basis and was immediately terminated after he was arrested.

"If you or your child have concerns about inappropriate texting or inappropriate social media use, please immediately contact school administration or law enforcement officials," the email read. "The safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority."

The investigation remains ongoing by the sheriff's Thousand Oaks sexual assault unit. Anyone with information, including other potential victims, is asked to contact Detective Greg Webb at 805-371-8309. Information can also be given to School Resource Officer Deputy Vince Grillo at 805-371-8351.

This story may be updated.

Jeremy Childs is a general assignment reporter covering courts, crime and breaking news for the Ventura County Star. He can be reached at 805-437-0208, jeremy.childs@vcstar.com, and on Twitter @Jeremy_Childs.

This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Westlake High employee arrested after alleged 'illicit' messages to student


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