Facebook Pages Defend JSerra Teacher Caught in Alleged Sex Scandal

More than 500 students, alumni and friends show support, some with "Free Aldana" T-shirts.

Hours after the story hit the news Thursday, two Facebook pages cropped in support of a JSerra Spanish teacher arrested on suspicion of child molestation.

Orange County sheriff’s deputies and confirmed Thursday afternoon that Ricardo Aldana, a Spanish teacher and coach of girls’ volleyball and boys’ soccer, .

The school promptly fired Aldana, saying in a statement, “JSerra does not tolerate inappropriate conduct between faculty/staff and minors.”

Students Patch interviewed Thursday afternoon came to Aldana’s defense. When they returned home from school, they also decided to show their support on Facebook.

“The school did something very wrong today by firing Aldana. And they need to hear that,” said one Facebook event page “Who better else than us. We need to show our support and love for Aldana.”

That page invited students to show up to the senior parking lot between 7:30 and 10:30 a.m. today to make homemade T-shirts of support. Almost 150 students said they were attending the event.

Wrote one student on that page: “We get in trouble…so what? It’ll be worth it. We're standing up for what we believe in and they can’t do much because the majority of the school is doing this and its prob the best way to end school ...by revolting against it :) ha. We love you aldana! ♥”

Aldana, 37 of Dana Point, is accused of having sex with a former student, who authorities would only describe as a girl 14 years or younger. The alleged incident took place in his home.

Orange County sheriff's deputies said that the girl revealed all to her mother, who reported the incident to them. He was arrested Wednesday night, and by Thursday, his biography was gone from JSerra's website and from the Tstreet Volleball website, a private, Irvine-based club where Aldana also coached.

Friends of Aldana started another Facebook page called  “Free Aldana.” As of 10:30 Thursday night, it had 480 likes. In the "about" section, it states the page’s purpose is to, “Pray for him, we love him.”

That page seeks to get students to purchase professionally made T-shirts that say in bright red lettering: “Free Aldana.”

Advised one student: “get alot, ull sell them al [sic].”

Kerry December 17, 2011 at 09:15 PM
Innocent until proven guilt is a cornerstone of our justice system. This is a hard case. He apparently is well liked. That does not prove anything though. Can the accusation of anyone prove you guilty?
Verita Aquita January 02, 2012 at 05:56 AM
Innocent until proven guilty is not a cornerstone of the Mission Viejo Patch. The author of this piece, Penny Arevalo, was/is Facebook friends with the Assistant coach who accused the former Mission Viejo High School water polo coach of sexual harassment. The charges were not substantiated by the school district, and the Sheriffs Department found no grounds to arrest the coach. Yet the Patch chose to go public with this 'case' even though the accuser[s] were supposed to follow confidentiality procedures in order to ensure due process was followed. The Patch's yellow journalism was no doubt partly responsible for the decision of the former coach to resign--lest he be the subject of a further smear campaign. In the case of this JSerra coach, it seems as though the case is more substantial, although quite honestly because of the Patch's lack of journalistic ethos, I find it difficult to believe anything published by the Patch or this 'so-called' journalist.
Penny Arévalo January 02, 2012 at 06:07 AM
I am Facebook friends with many sources and people I have not met. I'd be happy to be Facebook friends with you, too. :-) I looked for you, but found no Verita Aquita (although quite a few Veritas Aquitases). As for Coach McMunn, school district officials said they removed him, not that he resigned. The exact quote: "The District has determined that Coach McMunn will no longer be associated with the Girls' Water Polo program at Mission Viejo High School." The lengthy report into his behavior concluded that while he didn't commit overt acts of sexual harassment, he had acted inappropriately and needed to be counseled.
Verita Aquita January 02, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Facebook is known as a social networking site. It is difficult to imagine that being privy to the private life of a 'source' would not have an influence on a reporter's professional obligation of unbiased reporting. Perhaps this would be a good topic for you to address in a future column. You conveniently gloss over the point about making these accusations public before the investigation was concluded. You were fed the documents from the accusers. How could you have missed the written admonition that the case was supposed to be kept confidential by all parties? Did it not occur to you to question the motives of those feeding you the documents/those contacting you with the story? Curious that there was no follow-up with the 'whistleblower'. What was the outcome with his case/grievance? It is telling that one of the main sources for this story is this so-called 'whistleblower' who makes a big deal about filing a grievance, but then the story disappears. Interesting how you protect the confidentiality of this so-called whistleblower's case, and do not do the same for the former coach. You also conveniently gloss over the fact that the coach resigned from the boys team. There was nothing in the report requiring this--why do you think he resigned? Perhaps the overly biased reporting made it difficult to continue coaching.
Penny Arévalo January 02, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Between myself and my two editors who read the stories very closely, we probably have close to 75 years of journalism experience. The story was also reviewed by AOL lawyers. I'm sorry you disagree with the end results. BTW, it is standard media practice to shield the name of alleged sexual abuse/harassment victims.


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