Former Cal High teacher pleads no contest to child molestation

SOUTH WHITTIER — A former California High School history teacher and junior varsity basketball coach faces sentencing next month after pleading no contest to having sex with a then-17-year-old student, officials said.
“John Gilbert Orellano pleaded no contest to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse on July 26,” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales said. The plea was entered at what was scheduled to be a hearing to determine a date for the 36-year-old Anaheim resident.
Orellano was initially charged with two counts of unlawful intercourse, as well as two counts of oral copulation with a minor.
He admitted the single count under a negotiated plea arrangement, Davila-Morales said.
He was ordered back to Norwalk Superior Court for sentencing Aug. 30, when he was expected to receive 90 days jail time, as well as five years felony probation, she said. He will not be required to register as a sex offender.
Prosecutors alleged Orellano had sex with the student in February, district attorney’s officials said.
The investigation into Orellano began with allegations that he had sent sexually explicit messages to the girl beginning in January, according to Sgt. Nancy Drake of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau.
But as the investigation went on, detectives determined that the case involved more than just electronic communication.
He was placed on administrative leave once Whittier Union High School District officials learned of the allegations on March 13, district officials said. Orellano, who had worked for the WUHSD for two years, resigned two days later.
“We worked very closely with the Sheriff’s Department to get resolution to this issue,” WUHSD Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson said. “It was our coordination with the department that initiated an investigation and (Orellano) was immediately removed from the classroom.”
WUHSD officials added that the incident was handled swiftly and appropriately by both district staff and law enforcement.
“In addition to the student’s trust he violated, I truly feel that this was a crime against the entire community,” Thorstenson said. “Now that the courtroom portion of this ordeal is over, it is my hope that he is punished accordingly.”
Orellano has remained free through the trial process after posting $240,000 bail three days after his May 15 arrest, according to county booking records. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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