An award-winning teacher at West High School has been arrested for allegedly having sexual relations with a 17-year-old student.
Jose Bernaf Fanjul, 45, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of multiple counts of forcible sex abuse and forcible sodomy.
He engaged in sexual acts multiple times with the teen between March and July, according to Salt Lake County Jail documents. The incidents happened at the school after hours, at Fanjul's house and other places "within the Salt Lake area," jail records state.
Salt Lake police spokeswoman Lara Jones said the department had been working with the girl and her father, culminating in Fanjul's arrest at West High School after school had let out for the day. Fanjul was led out of the school in handcuffs.
According to West High School's Web page, Fanjul was a social studies and world language teacher. Fanjul also used to coach the West High girls volleyball team. He said on his Web page, written in both English and Spanish, that he has a son serving a mission in Brazil for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Fanjul was just starting his fourth year teaching at West, according to the Salt Lake School District.
District spokesman Jason Olsen said Fanjul was placed on administrative leave immediately. He said counselors were on standby
should they be needed today at the school.
West High students interviewed Tuesday afternoon said they were surprised to hear their teacher had been arrested. They said Fanjul was a nice and fun educator. They called the alleged incident "disgusting."
Fanjul received Utah's No Child Left Behind 2007 American Star of Teaching award last October. Hundreds of teachers in Utah are nominated each year for the distinguished award, which is given out by the U.S. Department of Education each year. A recipient from each state is selected for the honor.
Some students said they feel their school is already viewed as being on the wrong side of the tracks and they are worried this latest incident will further sully their school's reputation.
"It could happen to anybody anywhere. But it happened to be West," said Alex Mejia, 14, a sophomore.
Fabiana Andrade, 15, also a sophomore, said, "There have been things that have happened in the past here. But since the school is on the west side of the city people usually think it's a bad place. People already judge the area."
The arrest comes on the heels of an incident involving a former West High counselor having sexual relations with a female student. Marco Herrera, 53, was sentenced last week to three prison terms of 1-to-15 years. A judge ordered him to serve the sentences consecutively.Herrera pleaded guilty to several counts of forcible sex abuse after having a relationship with a 14-year-old student. Herrera was the girl's guidance counselor.
Contributing: Amy Stewart
E-mail: [email protected]