UCSD rec fencing coach accused of sex acts with teen student - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

UCSD rec fencing coach accused of sex acts with teen student

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) -- A coach in charge of youth fencing classes in the recreation department at UCSD is accused of sexually abusing a high school student starting when she was age 15.

The student came forward just last month, five years after the alleged sex acts took place.

The youth fencing program continued this past weekend in the main gym at UCSD even though the head coach was nowhere to be found.

On the UCSD web site, 49-year-old Vijay Prasad was described as the youth and adult recreation class fencing guru. Now, according to one employee, Prasad is on leave.

Two weeks ago, San Diego Police served a search warrant at Prasad's home in the 4100 block of Worsch Way in Carmel Valley.

Officers seized a black, BMW sedan with Canadian license plates that is owned by Prasad, and where the alleged sex acts took place.

According to the search warrant, a former La Jolla Country Day School student told police Prasad had sex with her inside that BMW as many as 70 times, beginning in 2005 when she was age 15 and continuing until she was 16.

The girl said the sex acts happened in a parking garage underneath the La Jolla Village Square shopping mall.

At the time, Prasad was coaching the teen in an after-school fencing club at La Jolla Country Day School, a private kindergarten through 12th grade institution.

Prasad would frequently drive the girl to fencing classes at UCSD following the club sessions after school, the search warrant states.

Along the way, the then 44-year-old coach and the 15-year-old girl would engage in sex acts in the front seat of Prasad's BMW the parking garage, according to the warrant.

The student is now age 21 and attending college. News 8 is not identifying the woman because she is an alleged victim of sexual assault.

The student said she came forward to police March 18 after suffering depression, anxiety, and nightmares; and "began to feel guilty that Prasad may have victimized other students," the search warrant said.

News 8 was unable to reach Prasad at his home but in a telephone interview his defense attorney, Kerry Steigerwalt, told News 8 the allegations are false and there is no substantive evidence to back them up.

"If we find a mixture of DNA on the seat, then it's a very strong case in favor of the victim," forensic DNA expert Mary Pierson told News 8 after reviewing the search warrant.

Pierson said there could be DNA evidence in the BMW, even five or six years after the alleged sex acts took place.

"This is in a vehicle so it's dried on the seat and I understand there were many episodes of sexual activity, so there may be a great chance to find DNA on that seat cover," Pierson said.

UCSD declined to comment on the case and did not immediately respond to a News 8 request for the current employment status of Prasad and his hire date.

La Jolla Country Day School issued the following written statement to News 8:

Vijay Prasad was brought to Country Day in the 2002-2003 school year by parents whose children were participating in his fencing club – La Jolla Golden Blades – at the University of California at San Diego.

Prasad was not an employee of Country Day but operated a club program funded by participating families and used Country Day facilities after school hours. At that time, background checks on club personnel were the responsibility of club organizations.

Prasad maintained his club team operation on the campus through the 2006-2007 school year.

Country Day policy prohibits coaches from transporting individual students for school events. However, club programs operate independently of the school and may allow different arrangements at the parents' discretion.

Prasad has not been charged with any crime at the present time, though the police investigation is ongoing.

La Jolla Country Day School officials confirmed detectives have inquired about Prasad's history at the school.

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