MENDOTA, California (KSEE) — Mendota Police revealed Thursday they were tipped off to Veronica Marie Lopez’s alleged sexual relationship with a student after she was arrested for domestic violence last week.
Police believe Lopez may have had more relationships with other students.
Lt. Kevin Smith with the Mendota Police Department said Firebaugh Police contacted Mendota Police on Jan. 29, advising them Lopez may be sexually involved with a 16-year-old student in the Mendota Unified School District where she was employed as a teacher’s aid.
During an interview with an officer, Lopez confessed to the relationship, according to Smith, saying it started around July or August. She was booked into the Fresno County Jail on two felony counts — oral copulations and sexual intercourse. She was released on bond on Thursday.
Smith said the challenge for these cases is finding forensic evidence.
“Quite often it becomes a he said, she said. It’s very difficult to prove [the relationship] without some forensic evidence or some corroboration,” he said. “However, in this case, we did receive a confession.”
In a statement, Mendota Unified Superintendent Dr. Paul Lopez said the district put Lopez on administrative leave as soon as police alerted them to the alleged relationship.
“Our priority is always the safety and well-being of our students. The district is prepared to provide support services to students and staff who may be struggling with the news of this incident,” the statement reads.
Smith said the investigation hasn’t confirmed other victims, however, there are suspicions there is at least one other one. If there are others, he wants to get in touch fast to get them the help they need.
He said it’s bad enough they’re only learning about the confirmed victim months after the alleged relationship started.
“It’s playing catch up now to make sure the victim is alright and grows up to have a productive future,” Smith said.
Smith said the other potential victim could be outside of the Mendota area. He’s asking anyone with information about Lopez to give Mendota Police a call at 559-655-9120.