A Santa Ana elementary school teacher has pleaded not guilty to charges that he molested four boys on swimming trips to the YMCA earlier this year.
Paul Hernandez, 31, a fifth-grade teacher at Fremont Elementary School, was arrested Tuesday and charged with five felony and 12 misdemeanor counts of child molestation. He was released on $10,000 bail Wednesday night. Police began investigating Hernandez about a month ago after receiving a complaint from an "uninvolved third party," according to Maureen Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Santa Ana Police Department. Hernandez entered his plea Wednesday.
Diane Thomas, spokeswoman for the Santa Ana Unified School District, said Hernandez was suspended from Fremont as soon as the investigation began.
In the complaint filed in Central Orange County Municipal Court, Hernandez is charged with molesting four boys 10 to 11 years old from December to April.
Hernandez's lawyer, Paul J. Wallin, Thursday denied the charges against his client.
"This is the latest in a series of accusations filed by the D.A.'s office against various teachers," Wallin said, "and just like in the other cases we have handled, these will be proven to be untrue."
Robert C. Gannon Jr., the deputy district attorney who brought the charges against Hernandez, was unavailable for comment.