Investigation Launched Into Alleged Sexual Abuse at Cate School
Detectives Seeking Information on Potential Additional Victims or Witnesses
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s offices announced Thursday they are investigating alleged sexual abuse and misconduct by a former employee of Cate School, an exclusive 9th-12th-grade boarding school located in the foothills of Carpinteria.
According to a press statement from the offices, the investigation was initiated April 1 by outside mandated reporters. The alleged abuse occurred on school property while the suspect was still employed there, authorities said.
On June 24, detectives served search warrants at the campus, located at 1960 Cate Mesa Road, to gather potential evidence. They have have contacted several sexual assault survivors in the case who are both current and former students, officials said.
But detectives also believe there may be additional survivors or witnesses who have not been identified, Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Raquel Zick said. Anyone with information related to the investigation is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Mark Valencia at (805) 681-4150.
“The Sheriff’s Office is aware that survivors of sexual assault and abuse are often reluctant to come forward for many different reasons,” she continued. “Sheriff’s detectives coordinate closely with the District Attorney’s Victim-Witness Assistance Program to ensure the needs of survivors are not overshadowed by the focus on the investigation and prosecution of the accused.” Survivors may contact the program directly at (805) 568-2400 or toll free at (855) 840-3232.
“The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind survivors that they can also find support services through our community partner, Standing Together to End Sexual Assault (STESA),” Zick said. “Services offered by STESA include a confidential 24-hour hotline, legal and medical advocacy and accompaniment, and counseling. You can reach a STESA advocate at any time by calling (805) 564-3696.”