On Wednesday June 8th, Pil Mendez was arrested and charged with 3 counts of molesting or annoying a child and 1 count of sexual battery. Mendez was a teacher’s assistant at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex until in November of last year, when a student came forward alleging she was touched inappropriately and that the suspect had made several sexual comments to her. Over the course of the investigation, additional students came out and indicated that they’d experienced the same thing. Now investigators are actively searching for additional victims.

Upon being informed of the investigation, LA Unified School District officials immediately removed Mendez from his position. He is currently being held in lieu of $50,000 bail as the investigation continues.

Sexual Battery is covered under California Penal Code 243.4 PC and is described as touching the intimate part of another individual for the purpose of gratification, arousal, or abuse. Sexual assault is a “wobbler” in California, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the crime and the defendant’s prior criminal history. Misdemeanor penalties include 6-months to 1-year in county jail, and a fine of up to $2,000. Felony charges include the penalties of 2 to 4-years in California state prison and fines of up to $10,000. Both misdemeanor and felony convictions also require that the defendant register as a sex offender under Penal Code 290 PC.

Penal Code 647.6 PC makes it illegal to annoy or molest a child under the age of 18. In order to be charged with this crime, an individual does not necessarily have to make physical contact with the child. Instead, simply making comments that are sexual in nature can be enough. Like Penal Code 243.4 PC, 647.3 PC is a “wobbler.” Misdemeanor penalties include up to 1-year in county jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Felony penalties include up to 1-year in California state prison.