A long-time coach at McFarland High School has been charged with sexual misconduct against a minor.
At the beginning of October, a McFarland sophomore and JV basketball player accused 36-year-old Fernando Pruneda of inappropriate sexual behavior.
According to Kern County Sheriff’s reports, Pruneda was trying to get sexual favors from the boy and had possibly touched him.
KCSO used the boy’s cell phone to set up a meeting at a McDonald’s, where they arrested Pruneda.
In court documents, investigators say he used his position as coach to bait students with the promise of a varsity promotion.
According to the boy’s statement in the KCSO report, Pruneda had massaged him, as well as other players, below the waist several times. When he resisted or said stop, Pruneda would tell him, ‘you won’t get varsity.’
The boy also told KCSO that Pruneda forced him to sleep in the same bed with him during away tournaments. Pruneda also invited the boy to Las Vegas alone.
In addition, Pruneda frequently ordered the boy to erase text messages between them.
A McFarland High graduate himself, Pruneda–known to students as Coach Fern–coached boys basketball for 15 years and helped coach baseball.
The school once stated in his bio on their website, “we expect him to coach at least another 15 years.”
Now, Pruneda faces seven criminal counts, including three felonies.
In response to the boy’s narrative, the report says Pruneda told detectives he was just joking around.
The school district says Pruneda has been placed on administrative leave, and he is no longer in contact with students.