RIVERSIDE (CBSLA.com/AP) — A woman has been arrested for allegedly molesting two underage girls while she worked as a teacher and assistant principal in Riverside County, authorities reported.
Andrea Michelle Cardosa, 40, was charged with 16 counts of illegal sexual contact with a child, and could get life in prison, the Riverside County District Attorney’s office said.
Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Cardosa Monday afternoon in Perris. She’s scheduled to be arraigned Thursday, district attorney’s spokesman John Hall said.
The alleged abuse took place more than 10 years ago, but recently escalated into a public scandal when one of the reported victims posted a video online of herself confronting Cardosa over the phone.
The 28-year-old woman, who has identified herself as “Jamie,” says the abuse began when she was 12 years old and Cardosa was working as her basketball coach at Chemawa Middle School. The alleged molestation continued until Jamie graduated high school.
Jamie recently learned Cardosa was an assistant principal at Alhambra High School. She called the administrator at her office to confront her about the alleged abuse, recorded the conversation — unbeknownst to Cardosa — and posted the video to YouTube.
Cardosa, who resigned the same day the Alhambra School District learned of the video, is believed to be heard in the footage admitting to Jamie’s accusations.
“You realize that you brainwashed me and manipulated me and what you did was wrong?” Jamie says in the video.
“Yes, and I regret it,” the older woman says.
“You should be so ashamed and so disgusted with yourself,” Jamie says.
“I am. I am,” the older woman says. “I regret it every day. Every day.”
Jamie said she came forward because her daughter is about the age she was when the abuse began and she wanted to prevent other kids from being molested.
Jamie’s lawyer, David Ring, told The Associated Press last month that Jamie made “a spur of the moment decision” to call the woman after searching for her name on the Internet and discovering she still worked with children.
Her video was viewed nearly 1 million times just days after it was posted, and a second alleged victim named Brianna later came forward.
“Our stories are exactly, extremely, extremely alike. And I never realized that as a child but, now that I’m older and a little more mature, everything changed and I see what was going on,” the second alleged victim said.
Brianna, who is now 18, said Cardosa befriended her mother while Brianna was a student at Tomas Rivera Middle School in Perris in 2010.
She then “groomed” Brianna by giving her movie tickets, candy bars and lunch trips and calling her special, then made several sexual advances, inappropriately touching her and abusing her, according to a legal claim filed by her attorney.
Detectives are continuing to investigate the alleged abuse, which occurred between 1997 and 2001, and ask anyone with information to contact Riverside police.
Cardosa is being held on $5 million bail.
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