SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A part-time San Jose Unified School District soccer coach faces charges of improperly touching at least three girls on the Gunderson High School soccer team.
School district officials say Ricardo Gutierrez had been specifically hired to work with the Gunderson girls soccer team since October 2018. But weeks ago, three players confided in school administrators he had been engaging in inappropriate behavior with all almost since he arrived.
“We found out through the investigation that there was inappropriate contact occurring between November of 2018 to November of this year when the three victims came forward,” said San Jose Police Department spokeswoman Gina Tepoorten.
Tepoorten said the contact involved touch, not sexual intercourse. The 34-year-old Gutierrez came to police headquarters Monday and surrendered to officers, where he was arrested and charged with three counts of annoying or molesting a child. His victims are two 16-year-olds and a 15-year-old.
“Anyone that is brought in to work with our students has to be vetted very carefully. Goes through the DOJ and FBI background checks. And this particular coach did pass his checks,” said San Jose Unified School District spokeswoman Lili Smith.
Smith said Gutierrez is on unpaid leave, and will not return. She said administrators contacted police after the girls first reported the crimes a few weeks ago and that parents should rest assured students are safe.
“We commend our students for coming forward, feeling safe enough within our school area to talk to a trusted employee, a trusted adult, about what they saw,” said Smith.
Students and parents outside the highschool spoke with KTVU Wednesday afternoon. One student defended the coach, saying the allegations are lies that have destroyed the coach's life. But parent Salina De La Torre said, “Gutierrez should receive the appropriate punishment if he’s guilty of the charges.”
Gutierrez was also a coach for the San Jose Surf competitive girls soccer team. That group sent an email to family of team members saying once the organization learned of the investigation, Gutierrez was removed from his duties and won’t return. They don’t believe any other girls were victimized.