Wapato Elementary Teacher Charged with Child Rape

Wapato Elementary Teacher Charged with Child Rape »Play Video
YAKIMA -- A Wapato elementary teacher was in court Monday charged with several counts of child rape and child molestation just days after one of his students told police they had been having a sexual relationship for more than a year.

Adams Elementary teacher Jesus Barcena could face a maximum of life in prison if found guilty of raping one of his fifth grade students.

The student told her mother about the allegations. Barcenas was arrested last week.

Police say Barcenas began molesting the girl last fall just a few weeks after her 11th birthday. She claims her teacher would touch and "french kiss" her in his classroom.

Court papers also claim the 26-year-old groomed her for years.

They became friends during an after school program when she was in 3rd grade.

"I just thought, 'wow,'" said the alleged victim's neighbor Jocelyn Galindo. "I never thought nothing like that would happen, especially in our neighbors."

The teacher not only had access to the girl through his classroom, police say he also began dating the alleged victim's mother, and even moved in to their home this past summer.

"They just seemed like normal little girls and stuff," said Galindo, who claimed the alleged victim has younger sisters.

But if the allegations are true, it was hardly a normal childhood for the girl who is now 12.

She told police Barcenas and her had sex several times while they lived under the same roof, including once in her mother's bedroom.

The victim also told investigators she believed Barcenas "brainwashed" her into thinking sex was OK with him.

"The little girl in the summertime played outside in the front yard," said neighbor James Phillips. "Just a sad situation."