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Desert Hot Springs man to stand trial for allegedly molesting students as CVUSD bus driver

The Larson Justice Center in Indio, Calif.

A judge ruled today that a 67-year-old Desert Hot Springs man must stand trial for allegedly molesting girls under 14 years old while working as a bus driver for the Coachella Valley Unified School District.

Jose Luis Moncada was held to answer after being accused of seven counts of committing lewd acts with an underage child at the Larson Justice Center in Indio on Wednesday. He also faces two enhancements for allegedly committing sex offenses with multiple victims.

The felony complaint filed by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department alleges that in 2010, Moncada “inappropriately touched several students while conducting his duties as a school bus driver.”

The complaint lists three students, all girls, as victims.

Moncada was arrested in February 2020 at his place of employment. An investigation into the defendant began five months prior when a student complained to district officials about several alleged incidents that occurred in 2020.

A statement released by then-district Superintendent Maria Gandera three days after the arrest confirmed that Moncada was a school district employee when the student made the complaint, but did not say whether he had since been fired.

Moncada was initially charged with eight counts of lewd acts with children under 14. He pleaded not guilty to all eight counts in 2020, with one officially dismissed at Wednesday’s preliminary hearing.

Because the crimes allegedly involved multiple victims, Moncada could face a life sentence if convicted, former district attorney’s spokesman John Hall said in 2020.

Two anonymous former CVUSD students, now adults, sued the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs Unified School districts in 2021 for failure to report Moncada’s alleged behavior, according to previous Desert Sun reporting. In their complaint, the plaintiffs accused the latter district of ignoring a parent’s 2004 warning that Moncada, a former PSUSD employee, had abused a 7-year-old child without the district contacting law enforcement.

Moncada is scheduled to make his next court appearance at an information arraignment on June 11.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Man to stand trial for allegedly molesting students as CVUSD bus driver

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