VISTA (CNS) - A former varsity boys' basketball coach at Vista High School who allegedly had inappropriate sexual contact with a female student pleaded not guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of annoying or molesting a child.
Charlie Jesus Mercado Jr., 36, surrendered to authorities last month after learning a warrant had been issued for his arrest.
On May 11, the alleged victim, a junior at Vista High, told administrators that she was in an "inappropriate relationship'' with Mercado, according to sheriff's Lt. Dan Brislin.
"During the investigation, detectives discovered that Mercado fostered an intimate relationship with the victim and on one occasion met with her off campus, (and) they engaged in inappropriate physical contact,'' the lieutenant said.
Mercado, who had been employed at Vista High since August 2005, was fired shortly after the allegations arose, according to Vista Unified School District Director of Human Relations Kyle Ruggles.
Mercado -- free on $10,000 bail -- had a readiness conference set for Oct. 18 and trial scheduled for Nov. 16.
The San Diego County unemployment rate remained steady at 3.3 percent between November and December despite a loss of 3,500 jobs.
A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck offshore in Mexico's Gulf of California on Friday morning, but there were no immediate reports of damage.
Scattered showers and lower temperatures are in the forecast Friday for San Diego County with snow possible in the mountains at gradually lower elevations throughout the day.
Teachers in the Solana Beach School District, who have been without contracts for months, on Thursday pushed for new contracts, but the district is not backing down.
A Ramona man was arrested Thursday on suspicion of stealing tip jars from a half-dozen Poway businesses.
People who take their pets to Del Mar's dog beach wanted to know who planted the incredible garden there.
Local first-responders who put their lives on the line to help victims of the deadly Montecito mudslides were back home Thursday.
A man accused of stabbing a woman to death near an Encanto Park made his first court appearance Thursday.