A Camarillo High School science teacher and coach has been arrested on suspicion of using pornography to seduce a 17-year-old male student and behaving lewdly in front of the teenager, authorities said Wednesday.
Chad Wenzlick Pridgen, 30, was in Ventura County Jail on $250,000 bail Wednesday after Sheriff's Department investigators arrested him Tuesday night in his Camarillo home. Authorities also seized several items from the house.
Authorities said the teenager reported the alleged incidents to police Jan. 30. He said they occurred over several months beginning in June of last year.
Charges had not been filed as of late Wednesday. Pridgen is scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. today in Superior Court.
Oxnard Union High School District officials said they have placed Pridgen on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of their investigation. They said Pridgen's classes have been assigned to a substitute teacher.
"Obviously the district has a strong interest in protecting the students, and we are working with law enforcement to make sure that interest is met," Assistant Supt. Roger Rice said.
Sheriff's authorities refused to release many details of the arrest or events leading up to it, including whether the teenager was one of Pridgen's students or what the teacher is suspected of doing.
"We are heavily into this investigation and are looking at other victims," sheriff's spokesman Eric Nishimoto said. "Any specifics we release will severely compromise what we're doing."
Nishimoto did say, however, that the charges do not include any allegations of physical molestation.
Pridgen, who is in his seventh year at Camarillo High School, taught upper-level science and coached boys' and girls' tennis this year, district officials said. Parents and students said Pridgen also coached last year's junior varsity boys' soccer team.
For the past four years, he has coached a team of students to compete in the Envirothon, a national academic contest that quizzes students on environmental topics.
Senior Tyler LeBrun, 17, was on the team last year. It placed 10th in a competition among teams from the United States and Canada.
LeBrun said members of this year's team showed up at school at 7 a.m. Wednesday for their weekly meeting with Pridgen, only to find his classroom roped off with yellow police tape.
"We were kind of surprised," he said. "The campus deputies told us there wasn't a meeting this morning and that classes would be in the library."
Students said they hope another teacher will take over the team, which begins competition in April.
Rice said the school board will review the matter in closed session at its next meeting Wednesday.