RIVERSIDE – A hearing is scheduled today to determine whether a Riverside elementary school teacher’s aide accused of molesting students should stand trial.
Fernando Figueroa, 24, is charged with seven counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 years old and one count of oral copulation of a child under 10, with a sentence-enhancing allegation of targeting multiple children.
Figueroa is being held in lieu of $4 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
Today’s preliminary hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice, if it goes forward, will require the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office to present evidence showing that a trial for the defendant is warranted.
According to Riverside police, detectives were alerted to a possible assault in the technology lab at Liberty Elementary School in February and initiated an investigation.
Officer Ryan Railsback said that the victim, whose identity was not released, alleged that she had been “touched … in a sexual manner” by Figueroa. Detectives questioned several other students, who “made similar allegations,” Railsback said.
On Feb. 16, a search warrant was obtained and served at the defendant’s residence in the 5000 block of La Sierra Avenue, after which he was arrested without incident.
Figueroa is a “dual employee” of the Riverside Unified School District and the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Redlands-Riverside.
The club’s chief executive officer, P.T. McEwen, told City News Service at the time that Figueroa worked in the organization’s after-school program as a “youth development professional,” and he had been in that position for three years, “working directly with kids.”
“This whole thing comes as a shock,” McEwen said, emphasizing that Figueroa underwent a background check prior to being hired.
The school district and club immediately placed the defendant on paid administrative leave after receiving notification of his arrest.