Mother says son changed forever after alleged molestation at science camp

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) -- A South Bay mother told KTVU Thursday her son is no longer the same after he was inappropriately touched by a camp counselor who he trusted.

Two families have now come forward suing the Office of Education claiming the county failed to protect their children from a suspected sexual predator.

The mother known as "Jane Doe" said her 10-year-old son came back from Walden West in January, he was an entirely different person.

"When he got off the bus he hugged me so tight and he was a little teary eyed," said the mother.

For months, she said he was moody, refused to attend sleepovers and up until recently never slept alone. It wasn't until Edgar Covarrubias-Padilla was arrested was arrested for possessing child porn last month did she suspect the counselor known as "Papa Bear" had molested her son.

"I put two and two together," said the mother. "I just knew from his reaction coming back and the way he was."

She claims when her son got ill at the camp, he was advised to get comforted by Covarrubias-Padilla. She said the two would be alone and her son was told he couldn't go home or call his parents.

"I feel very disgusted," said the mother. "I feel very sad; very angry. Something like this to happen to your child for any mother it's just a nightmare."

In court documents obtained by KTVU, Covarrubias-Padilla maintains his innocence stating he "would rather kill himself than touch a child."

The Santa Clara County Office of Education has devoted part of its web site responding to the arrest. The office said it's launched its own investigation and made improvements to ensure student safety including increasing overnight staffing and implementing a buddy system so no child is ever alone. 

The mother questions why those rules weren't enforced from the start.

"It shouldn't have happened especially at science camp where there are so many children that go a year there," said the mother.

Her son is currently undergoing counseling. The Office of Education declined KTVU's request for an on-camera interview but said the office was "shocked and dismayed" and has implemented additional safety measures.

Covarrubias-Padilla is due back in court for his criminal case on June 30.