DIAMOND BAR — A Diamond Bar man and volunteer in the music program at Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona is accused of molesting a 16-year-old student during the summer of 2006 while working at another high school in Fullerton, authorities said.
Albert Anthony Morales, 33, was arrested at his home Tuesday on suspicion of child molestation after a woman, now-22-year-old, came forward to report being abused by him while attending Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton in 2006, Sgt. Dan Scott of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau said.
The molestations took place “on an ongoing basis” over the course of the summer as Morales carried on an inappropriate, sexual relationship with the teenage student, Scott said.
“It was substantial sexual contact, and definitely rose to the level of a felony,” he said.
Formal charges were yet to be filed against Morales Wednesday morning, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
The alleged molestation was first reported to deputies from the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station Jan. 29, officials said.
Scott said the victim told investigators about her first sexual encounter with Morales after he invited her to his home and supplied her with alcohol.
He continued meeting the teenage student and engaging in sexual activity throughout the summer, Scott said. Molestations took place at Morales’ home and at other locations, but never at the school.
But the girl did not report the molestation, which at the time she viewed as a “relationship,” until late last week.
“Recently, she heard a presentation about sexual abuse, and a woman molested by a teacher,” Scott said. “That prompted her to come forward.”
After investigators looked into the allegations, members of the Sheriff’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit arrested Morales about 10:15 a.m. Tuesday at his home, according to sheriff’s officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
It is not uncommon for allegations of child molestation to surface long after the incident, Scott said.
“It’s normal that children to not report right away,” he said. “They don’t realize they’re being used and taken advantage of by the perpetrator.”
Morales has been working with high school music programs and tutoring students, primarily in percussion, for the past 13 years, officials said.
Prior to working with students at Sunny Hills High School from 2004 to 2009, Morales was part of the music program at Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar from 1998 to 2000, according to Deputy Aura Sierra-Lidman said.
Morales began volunteering at Diamond Ranch High School in 2012, and was still assisting the band director and working with students at the time of his arrest, sheriff’s and Pomona Unified School District officials said.
He was not paid-employee of the district, district spokesman Ryan Hightower said.
Diamond Ranch High School Principal Suzanne Steinseifer-Ripley sent a letter to parents Tuesday regarding the arrest.
“Upon receipt of information, the school and district administration have fully cooperated with the authorities,” Steinseifer-Ripley wrote.
“While there is a presumption of innocence in matters of this nature, the district takes such matters with the utmost seriousness. The individual is not on the campus and will not return to campus pending the outcome of the investigation,” according to the letter.
A pre-employment background check and fingerprint analysis conducted by the PUSD turned up no previous criminal complaints against Morales, school officials added.
“This is a difficult time for our school and with your continued support we will maintain an educationally sound and supportive school environment for all students,” according to the principal’s letter. “Students may hear rumors or information from various sources. Parents are encouraged to discuss such information with their student(s). We remain committed to the safety and well-being of our students. School counselors and psychologists from the District will be available to meet with students as appropriate.”
While no other allegations had come to light Wednesday, Scott said investigators suspected the teenage girl was not Morales’ only victim.
“The victim in this case believed that there were other girls that were close to him,” Scott said.
“This type of behavior by an individual is very methodical and it’s often repeated,” the sergeant said. “We believe there’s a high likelihood that there’s other victims out there, and we urge them to come forward,”
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau at 877-710-5273.
According to county booking records, Morales was being held in lieu of $350,000 bail at the sheriff’s Walnut-Diamond Bar Station pending a scheduled arraignment Thursday in Pomona Superior Court.
BOOKING PHOTO of Albert Morales, 33, of Diamond Bar courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department