Former Saratoga camp employee to be sentenced to 18 years for molestation, child porn

SARATOGA (KRON) — The former employee of Walden West science camp pleaded this week as charged to 15 criminal counts, 14 felonies and one misdemeanor, including possession and distribution of child pornography and sexually molesting two boys.

By the terms of the negotiated disposition, 29 year-old Edgar Covarrubias-Padilla, will be sentenced to 18 years in prison on May 25, 2017 at the Hall of Justice in San Jose, sheriff’s officials said.

David Shabaglian, who prosecuted the case, said: “A person who molested two children and distributed child pornography, exploiting more children, will be sentenced to almost two decades in prison. Our community is safer because of that.”

Covarrubias-Padilla was arrested May 7, 2015 for child pornography allegations after investigators discovered he was distributing child pornography from an email account under the name of “pbear,” according to sheriff’s officials.

The day after his arrest, investigators learned about the 10-year-old Santa Clara County camper who was molested by the defendant at night while attending the camp a month before, sheriff’s officials said.

A Stanislaus County victim later reported that the Covarrubias-Padilla molested him at the camp over a of two year period, between the ages of seven and nine, officials said.

During the investigation, over 20,000 images and videos of child pornography were discovered on his laptop, cell phone and online accounts, according to sheriff’s officials.

Walden West is a week-long camp for fifth and sixth grade students run by the Santa Clara County Office of Education.

Covarrubias-Padilla, nicknamed “Papa Bear,” was the person students turned to if they were troubled at night or homesick, according to county education officials.

Covarrubias-Padilla started volunteering at the camp in 2011 and was hired in 2013, working in various roles where he had contact with children, county education officials said.

He passed standard background checks including a federal fingerprint clearance, according to county education officials.

Since Covarrubias-Padilla’s arrest, the Office of Education has added safety rules for students and employees, a special task force was formed to look at the camp’s procedures and policies and an independent investigator was hired to review policies and identify areas of improvement.

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