SYLMAR (CBSLA.com) — A coach at a San Fernando Valley Catholic school faced accusations Thursday of sexually abusing a 13-year-old student.
Epifanio “Pete” Nevarez was in court for a bail hearing Thursday on four felony counts of lewd acts with the victim, who prosecutors said Nevarez befriended as a volunteer girls softball coach at St. Didacus Catholic School in Sylmar.
Nevarez, 58, of Sylmar, was arrested by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies on Mar. 4 on four felony counts of oral copulation with a unidentified person under 14 years of age, according to officials at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
Nevarez was a volunteer softball coach during the 2011-12 school year, according to school principal Frank Cantu, who also confirmed the victim is a female middle school student at St. Didacus.
Cantu sent a letter to parents on March 6 – the day Nevarez was charged – to inform students and family of the arrest and asking everyone to “appreciate and understand my desire to protect the confidentiality of this for our students.”
KCAL9’s Amber Lee reports the victim’s family claims Nevarez sexually abused the teen and fears there could be more victims that have yet to come forward.
“We have nothing to gain from accusing him of anything, neither does my sister, she has nothing to gain out of this,” said Lucy, the victim’s sister. “I believe 110 percent what my sister is saying and we just pray for justice.”
Members of Nevarez’s family exchanged words with the victim’s family before the hearing ended, but declined to speak with Lee on camera.
In 1995, Nevarez was questioned by Los Angeles Police Department detectives after the disappearance of his wife, Sandra, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was never charged with any crime.
If Nevarez is convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
The judge denied request to lower bail for Nevarez, which remained at $400,000. A preliminary hearing has been set for March 29.