Originally posted at 12:09 p.m. May 29, 2014. Edited with new details.
A former Spanish teacher and soccer coach at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano was convicted today of three counts of lewd acts with a child for having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl.
Jurors, however, acquitted 40-year-old Ricardo Aldana of four other counts of the same charge. Aldana, who faces four years and four months in prison when he is sentenced July 11, cried softly as the verdicts were read.
Aldana was fired from JSerra Catholic High School following his arrest in December 2011. Aldana coached the boys soccer team at the school.
Aldana met the victim when she was 13 and a freshman at the school, Senior Deputy District Attorney Jana Hoffmann said. By her sophomore year, she was being home-schooled, but she kept in touch with the defendant, the prosecutor said.
Aldana was arrested following a "covert" phone call to the defendant monitored by investigators.
"A panicked Ricardo Aldana tells her he loves her," on the phone call, Hoffmann said. "Mr. Aldana never denies having sex with (the alleged victim)."
During the phone call, when the girl said she was concerned about sexually transmitted diseases Aldana assured her he had been checked, then asked if he had to worry about contracting a disease from her, Hoffmann said.
The prosecutor said Aldana had a history of dating high school girls he met as a coach and teacher.
When the defendant was 21 he started dating a 16-year-old girl he married when she turned 18, Hoffmann said.
In 2002, when Aldana coached at Hawthorne High School, he allegedly had sex with a 17-year-old student whose brother played on the soccer team the defendant coached, Hoffmann said. When those allegations came to light, Aldana was fired, but the teen declined to pursue the case in court, Hoffmann said.
When Aldana was hired by JSerra in 2005 he lied on his job application when asked if he had been the subject of a sex crime allegation, Hoffmann said.
At the end of her freshman year, the accuser wrote a note to Aldana saying she had a "crush" on him, Hoffmann said. The two exchanged phone numbers and would send text messages to each other, the prosecutor added.
"She questions their age difference and he asks her if she wants to be his 14-year-old girlfriend," Hoffmann said. "They liked each other. There was a mutual flirtation."
When the girl's mother was out of town, Aldana picked her up and took her back to his home, where they engaged in multiple sex acts, Hoffmann said.
When the girl said she was concerned about getting pregnant, Aldana put on a condom, Hoffmann said.
Aldana's lawyer, Michael Molfetta, said the girl had previously claimed to have been abused by her father and made another claim against another adult, and both allegations turned out to be unfounded.
Molfetta conceded that his client did court his now ex-wife, starting when she was 16, but he did not "consummate" the relationship until she was of legal age and they married.
"It wasn't hidden or kept in the back seats of cars on sweaty nights," Molfetta said, adding Aldana asked for the blessing of his betrothed's family.
--City News Service