A South High School employee has been accused of sexual misconduct in a case that largely has flown under the radar.
Instructional aide Earnest Blake, 39, was arrested by the Bakersfield Police Department on Feb. 26 in connection with a sexual assault of a woman that had been reported on Aug. 11, 2018.
According to the department, the woman was picked up by Blake at around 3:30 p.m. in the 1000 block of Union Avenue and driven to the 7900 block of Eagle Ridge Street, where the assault occurred.
BPD declined to give the age of the woman, but said she was between 18 and 25 years old.
After the assault, Blake allegedly left the woman in the area. She went to a nearby residence for help and to contact police, according to the documents.
DNA taken from the woman after the assault resulted in a match for Blake in January, according to the documents. After being asked to report to the BPD office for an interview, he admitted to having consensual sex with the woman and said he had paid her $40, according to court documents.
Blake was subsequently arrested and booked into the Kern County Jail on suspicion of sodomy, sexual penetration and oral copulation by force as well as attempted rape.
A spokesperson with the Kern High School District said Blake has been on unpaid administrative leave since Feb. 27. The district declined to provide any additional comment on the case, as it is a personnel matter.
Blake will next appear in court on Aug. 2 for a readiness hearing, during which a trial date currently set for Aug. 12 could be confirmed.
Attorney Nicholas Lackie, who is prosecuting the case, said there’s a good chance the case will go to trial quickly.
“The defendant has said he wants to proceed to trial,” he said. “The case has been continued so I can get some discovery to the defense before the (readiness) hearing.”
Blake’s attorney, Ernest Hinman, could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Blake isn’t the only KHSD employee who has been accused of sexual misconduct within the past year. Here’s a look at the other cases making their way through the courts.
Jeff Hicks: The former Liberty High boys basketball coach and teacher was charged in December for annoying a child under 18 years of age. According to court documents, Hicks, 28, had invited a 16-year-old student to his residence last year, at which point he had inappropriate physical contact with the student, including kissing and rubbing himself against her. Prior to that, they had exchanged several text messages. A pre-trial conference in the case has been set for June 21.
Edwin Rodriguez: The North High athletic equipment manager was arrested in February on suspicion of inappropriate contact with at least 10 students from the school. Rodriguez, 40, has been charged with lewd and lascivious acts with minors 14 to 15 years old, exhibiting harmful matter to a minor, annoying a child under 18 and false imprisonment. In total, he faces 11 felony counts and 13 misdemeanor counts. Rodriguez's wife Josie, a special education instructional assistant and head cheerleading coach, has also been placed on administrative leave. It is unclear whether the cases are connected. Edwin Rodriguez will be back in court on July 16 for a pre-preliminary hearing.
Johnny Gray Watson: This Regional Occupational Center teacher was arrested in March 2018 after law enforcement learned of an inappropriate texting relationship with a 17-year-old student that included Watson asking if she wanted to have sex with him. During a trial in Kern County Superior Court earlier this year, Watson was acquitted by a jury after his accuser admitted to plotting with another student to obtain evidence to frame him. He has not yet been approved by the district to return to class and is still on administrative leave.
Mark Weir: Highland High Assistant Principal Mark Weir has not been arrested by local law enforcement. However, a lawsuit was filed in late January in which a former Highland High student alleges that Weir sexually abused him from 2009 through 2011. The student said he was part of a school-sponsored homeless assistance program. The Bakersfield Police Department recommended charges, but the case was dropped by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office due to insufficient evidence. The lawsuit has a case management conference on July 29.