North High School employee Edwin Rodriguez appeared in court for the first time on Thursday on charges of inappropriate contact with students.
During Rodriguez’s arraignment in Kern County Superior Court, he pleaded not guilty to all charges, including multiple counts of lewd and lascivious acts with minors 14 to 15 years old and exhibiting harmful matter to a minor.
Rodriguez, 40, was prohibited by Judge Michael Bush from having any contact with minors and to stay away from any K-12 school.
Rodriguez’s pre-preliminary hearing was scheduled by Bush for April 25. If everything goes according to plan, a preliminary hearing will be held on April 26. Rodriguez’s bail was set at $775,000.
Rodriguez is being represented by criminal defense lawyer Kyle Humphrey. A prosecutor for the case hasn’t been assigned yet, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office.
During the arraignment, Rodriguez requested that media not be allowed to photograph and record the arraignment, saying, “this case has already been sensationalized by law enforcement.” Judge Bush did not approve the request.
Rodriguez was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of having inappropriate contact with at least 10 current and former students since 2015, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. He is facing 11 felony counts and 13 misdemeanor counts.
Ten people have come forward to investigators alleging inappropriate physical contact and other unwanted interaction with Rodriguez, an athletic equipment manager who was hired by the Kern High School District in 2009.
A North High student told an administrator last September of having received sexually explicit messages through social media from Rodriguez. Law enforcement was subsequently contacted and an investigation began. Rodriguez was placed on administrative leave at that time.
Over the course of the investigation, it was determined that Rodriguez had sent explicit messages, including photos and videos, to several juvenile students through Snapchat and that he had inappropriate physical contact with a few of them.
After months of collecting evidence, deputies arrested Rodriguez at his residence and booked him into the Kern County Jail.