CHULA VISTA, Calif. - A 20-year-old tutor at Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach charged with having unlawful sex with an underage male student must stand trial on four felony charges, a judge ruled Thursday.
Alejandro Rodriguez faces up to five years in prison if convicted. He was arrested March 9 on four felony counts of oral copulation with a person under 18.
Rodriguez posted $60,000 bail.
The alleged sexual assaults occurred on Feb. 21 and Feb. 28 of this year, according to a criminal complaint.
On Thursday, Rodriguez's attorney, Greg Turner, called him a victim of an antiquated law.
"Were this a situation of traditional heterosexual intercourse, the charges would be less restrictive," said Turner.
In court, the 16-year-old alleged victim, identified as John Doe, described engaging Rodriguez through Facebook.
Doe spoke about two separate occasions where things turned sexual.
"It's against the law," said Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Matzger. "If you're over 18, you cannot have any kind of physical contact with somebody who is under 18 years old. As an adult, you cannot have any kind of sexual relationship with a minor."
Doe testified the relationship lasted about week. He told his cousin about Rodriguez, and it was Doe's father who contacted police.
"Certainly, we want to hold people accountable who are having sexual relations with minors," said Matzger.
Rodriguez's lawyer said while there is a well-established age disparity, there wasn't any type of predatory behavior, not a person taking advantage of a position of trust.
"This was really what I would suggest amounts to some sort of puppy love between two individuals of the same gender, where our legislature has not caught up with our progressive views on same-sex romance," said Turner. "While certainly if we had different genders here engaged in the same behavior, it would be charged the same way … if we had different genders here engaged in traditional different gender intercourse, we would be handling this matter in a wholly different situation."
Matzger said even if this case was between a male and a female and they engaged in the acts that John Doe and Rodriguez engaged in, they would be facing the same consequences.
"They are being treated similarly to opposite sex couples," Matger said.
Turner believes the laws need to be addressed.
"There ought to be a middle ground here between what's charged and what the end result should be," he said.
On the stand, John Doe admitted that he did seek out the tutor, but prosecutors said Rodriguez knew Doe's age and that he was a student.
A judge set a readiness conference for June 30 and trial was scheduled for Aug. 15.
Two other men who worked at Mar Vista High, Edward Aaron Mendoza and Martin Albert Gallegos, have also been charged in separate cases with having sex with students.
Mendoza, a former football coach, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a ninth-grade girl.
Gallegos, a former ROTC instructor at Mar Vista, is accused of having sex with a 12th-grade female student on multiple occasions.