MURRIETA – A former Menifee high school girls’ basketball coach accused of engaging in sex acts with a 15-year-old student pleaded not guilty today to felony and misdemeanor charges.
Lauren Cecil Matheney, 23, of Perris was arrested in January following an investigation into her alleged relationship with the girl.
Matheney, who is charged with a felony count of oral copulation of a minor and misdemeanor count of child annoyance, appeared before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Judith Clark, who scheduled an April 30 felony settlement conference date at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
Matheney remains free on a $25,000 bond.
The defendant worked as the junior varsity girls basketball coach at Paloma Valley High School from August 2013 to Jan. 29. She was fired soon after officials at the Perris Union High School District learned she was the subject of a criminal investigation, according to the school district’s superintendent, Jonathan Greenberg.
According to Murrieta police Lt. Tony Conrad, a patrol officer was checking a suspicious vehicle parked near the intersection of Keller and Menifee roads the night of Jan. 22 when he came upon Matheney and the alleged victim, identified in court documents only as ”A.H.”
Matheney was permitted to leave, but detectives were notified and initiated an investigation, according to Conrad.
”It became apparent the relationship between Ms. Matheney and the minor was inappropriate and criminal in nature,” the lieutenant alleged.
Following a weeklong investigation, Matheney was arrested but quickly posted bail and was released from jail.
Greenberg told City News Service that the defendant was a 2008 graduate of Paloma Valley High and underwent a background check prior to being hired last summer.
According to the superintendent, Matheney coached about 15 players and was assigned exclusively to the athletics department, with no involvement in academics.