An attorney representing a 17-year-old Delano girl who had sex with her high school counselor filed a government claim Monday — a precursor to a civil lawsuit — alleging that the district knew about the employee’s history of sexual misconduct with minors and put children in danger by hiring him.
Bobby Scott Campos Perigo, a 28-year old former student affairs specialist at Delano High School, admitted to police last month that he carried on a sexual relationship with an underage girl who worked as a student aide in his office. Perigo resigned his job Friday. He has also admitted to sexual misconduct with minors in the past, according to police reports.
Daniel Rodriguez, the Bakersfield attorney filing the claim, said he intends to show that the district knew about Perigo’s storied history of sexual misconduct with minors when he was first hired as a bus driver in 2010, and then put Perigo, an alleged sexual predator, in a position where he could groom minors on campus.
Perigo was promoted in 2014 to a position that had him working directly with students, disciplining them, but also counseling them.
The claim names the Delano Joint Union High School District, former Superintendent Rosalina Rivera, Principal Rene Ayon, Assistant Principal Marke Rodriguez, Student Affairs Specialist Juan Brito (who was arrested on suspicion of knowing about Perigo’s relationship, but withholding information from officers,) Perigo, and Perigo’s mother, Anna, who holds a seat on the school board, as defendants.
Neither Brito, Perigo nor his mother have returned repeated calls for comment.
District officials received the claim Monday afternoon, shortly after Rodriguez announced the filing during a press conference, but could not comment on it because of a lack of time to review it, district spokesman Tom DeLapp said.
“They can allege anything they want in a news conference, but the facts in the situations need to be proven in the court of law,” DeLapp said.
HISTORY OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
Accusations of sexual misconduct with minors have dogged Perigo for more than eight years.
Perigo admitted to groping and fondling a Delano High School student in 2008 while she was naked, according to earlier police reports that resurfaced during the current investigation. He was a 22-year-old volunteer baseball coach at the time.
Perigo was never charged for that, or for accusations that he had sex with another underage girl while serving as a California Highway Patrol cadet. Working off an anonymous tip, police launched an investigation into the matter just days after Perigo was hired as a CHP officer in the Newhall Division in August 2009. The alleged victim refused to undergo a forensics exam and Perigo denied the accusations.
Perigo resigned his position as a CHP officer five days after the investigation began, CHP personnel officials told The Californian.
A FLAWED PROCESS
That incident should have raised a red flag for the district during its hiring process, Rodriguez said, questioning why the CHP was never called for a reference. The district “looked the other way,” he said, adding that if officials had thoroughly reviewed Perigo’s job application, “this man would never have gotten a job there.”
It’s inconceivable, Rodriguez added, that Perigo’s mother, Anna, a school board trustee, would not know about her son’s checkered past with underage girls.
“Her No. 1 job is to protect kids. She took an oath to protect the kids, and you certainly don’t allow someone with a background of allegations of sexual misconduct to have access to minors,” Rodriguez said. “When you have an alleged pedophile, the last thing you want to do is put him in a population of kids where he has access to groom them — because that’s what pedophiles do. They take advantage of young people and young kids,” Rodriguez said.
Perigo's mother has held her seat since 2008 — two years before the district hired her son full-time as a bus driver. He was promoted in 2014 to a student affairs specialist. His duties included disciplining and counseling students.
It's unclear whether Perigo's mother had any knowledge of her son's past.
Rodriguez says he’ll subpoena bank statements, text messages and emails to find out whether Perigo’s mother paid for his lawyer in 2009 when he was accused of statutory rape by another underage girl.
“We’ll get to the bottom of this,” Rodriguez said.
The Kern County District Attorney’s office has also filed criminal charges — three counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, and one count of oral copulation with a minor — against Perigo. He pleaded not guilty.
Meanwhile, Delano Joint Union High School District officials have defended their hiring processes, and denied any knowledge of Perigo's history of sexual misconduct at his time of hire. His history of sexual misconduct did not come up during background checks, they said, because he was never arrested when he was accused in 2009.
The district has not taken any action against Brito, the school employee who police suspect knew about Perigo's relationship with the student but did not report it. Perigo told police that Brito encouraged the relationship.
Brito started the whole thing, Perigo told detectives.
Calling Brito a “wingman” and “tag team partner,” Rodriguez said that Brito is just as responsible.
That Perigo maintained a home in Fresno while commuting roughly 180 miles a day roundtrip to work in Delano at about $25 an hour raises questions about his intentions.
“It just looks strange to commute close to 200 miles per day,” Rodriguez said. “It looks strange that he left a job with the CHP after four months at the academy and two weeks on the job (Perigo actually enrolled in CHP Academy Feb. 2, 2009, and graduated Aug. 7, CHP personnel officials told The Californian.) All these red flags. Will he ever admit to it? I have a feeling he won't.”
In the eight-year span between the first documented accusation against Perigo and the most recent, Rodriguez said, other girls must have been preyed upon.
“Do you really think that he never engaged in any kind of sexual misconduct in those eight years? Or was it that he never got caught?” Rodriguez asked. “I think we all know the answer.”
The claim asks for monetary damages exceeding $10,000 but does not disclose a specific amount. Rodriguez said it is too early to tell what might be an appropriate sum.
District officials have 45 days to respond to the claim, but “even in the most clear cut cases,” most districts routinely reject claims, paving the way to file a lawsuit, Rodriguez said.