A San Gabriel Coach arrested for statutory rape was picked up after he fled to Henderson, Nevada with his 15-year-old student/girlfriend. Juan Ivan Barajas, a 36-year-old athletic director at the San Gabriel Mission High School is alleged to have developed a relationship that included sexual activity with one of his students. It’s unclear how family members learned of the relationship, but once they did, Barajas and the student fled to Nevada. Once arrested, Barajas was charged with several felonies, including statutory rape.
California Penal Code 261.5 PC covers statutory rape in the State of California. It’s essentially described as having sex with someone younger than 18. Interestingly, this means that a minor can technically be charged with statutory rape. There is no requirement that one of the people in the case be over the age of 18 when the alleged sexual intercourse occurs. However, prosecutors typically don’t go around pressing charges against teenagers for having sex with other teenagers. As such, the vast majority of cases of 261.5 PC involve adults and minors.
For someone to be charged with violating 261.5 PC, it doesn’t matter if the sex was consensual, nor does it matter if the sex was initiated by the minor. This stands in contrast to most other rape laws in California, where force, coercion or other lack of consent is often a required element of the crime.
Like many California laws, 261.5 PC is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal record.
For misdemeanor convictions, the possible penalties include informal probation, up to 1-year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. For felony convictions, the possible penalties include either formal or informal probation and 1-year in count jail, or 16-months to 4-years in prison. Additionally, defendants may have to pay up to $10,000 in fines.