SANTA ROSA — At school, two 16-year-old girls say they began relationships with two coaches, describing about two or three months of sex, drugs and partying in motel rooms, bedrooms and pickup trucks along the rural back roads of Santa Rosa.
The girls’ testimony led to sexual assault charges against the coaches in the Santa Rosa school district, where authorities have widened their criminal investigation.
As part of the case, investigators with the Cameron County Sheriff’s Office interviewed the two girls whose affidavits helped lead to the indictments of teacher and coach Josue Arnoldo Cepeda, 35, and coach Isaac Ruben Flores, 24.
In February, interim Superintendent Yolanda Chapa told investigators she had suspended Cepeda and Flores amid allegations of sexual relationships with students.
In an affidavit, one girl told investigators she became “close” to Cepeda, a high school football and basketball coach, when he taught her criminal justice in 2018.
During late January 2019, she said she became “serious or intimate” with Cepeda, who was teaching her principals of law.
The girl said she had sex with Cepeda about five times from January to about March, often at the Texas Inn in La Feria.
“She explained to investigators that she and Cepeda started out as friends that talked about all their personal issues but eventually developed feelings for each other which evolved into a relationship,” the affidavit states.
The girl testified she refused Cepeda’s invitation to have sex as part of a “threesome” with her and another girl.
According to the affidavit, Cepeda asked her not to disclose their relationship for the sake of his children and family.
Calling each other “babe” and telling each other “I love you,” Cepeda and girl sent each other text messages “all hours of the day,” according to the affidavit.
Using the “Cash App,” Cepeda transferred money to the girl, the affidavit states.
The girl “admitted to using the money Cepeda sent her to hang out with her friends and purchase items she wanted,” the affidavit states.
Cepeda also asked her to send him nude photographs of herself, the girl testified in the affidavit.
Through a girlfriend, she met Flores, a coach at Joe Nelson Middle School, who drove her and Cepeda to the motel, according to the affidavit.
In her affidavit, the girl also testified Cepeda, who used steroids from the United Kingdom, allegedly sold the drugs to Flores and other coaches.
As part of the investigation, authorities also interviewed another 16-year-old girl who said she had a sexual relationship with Flores.
In her affidavit, the girl told investigators she was in eighth grade when she met Flores, who worked around her school.
Soon, they had become friends on Snapshot, a social media outlet, the girl said.
The girl said she had sex with Flores twice at his home from November or December 2018 to early 2019.
“She told investigators she didn’t remember much because she was ‘really high,’” the affidavit states.
The second time, the affidavit states, “she did not want to have sex but she said yes because they were alone and she could not leave.”
Through her best friend, she met a 20-year-old Santa Rosa High School graduate who was a friend of Flores, she said.
The girl testified the two men smoked marijuana and drank alcohol with her and three other girls.
In February, the District Attorney’s Office launched its investigation after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigation’s Child Exploitation Task Force received telephone tips regarding allegations Cepeda and Flores were having improper relationships with students, Victoria Cisneros, spokeswoman for the District Attorneys Office, stated last month.
In May, a Cameron County grand jury indicted the coaches on charges stemming from allegations of sexual relationships with students.
Late last month, Cisneros confirmed local, state and federal authorities are trying to identify individuals involved in those alleged incidents while investigating whether they were covered up.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, school district officials failed to respond to reports that Cepeda and Flores were allegedly having relationships with students in May 2018.
On May 22, a Cameron County grand jury indicted Cepeda and Flores.
Meanwhile, Magistrate Judge Louis Sorola ordered each man held on $525,000 bail, setting bail at $75,000 per count.
Sorola charged Cepeda with one count of improper relationship and six counts of sexual assault, all second-degree felonies.
Flores was charged with one count of improper relationship, two counts of sexual assault and four counts of delivery of a controlled substance or marijuana.
All charges are second-degree felonies carrying as much as two to 22 years in state prison.
Cepeda and Flores are being held in the Cameron County Jail.