Posted on July 31, 2015

South Bay Camp Child Molestation Suspect Known as ‘Papa Bear’ Investigated by Feds for Months, Had Deportation Amnesty

Matt Bigler, CBS San Jose, May 22, 2015

The Santa Clara County science camp counselor charged with child molestation had been the focus of a federal investigation into child exploitation months before his arrest–and was able to kept his work permit issued through a program for immigrants brought illegally into the country despite the probe, a U.S. senator alleged.

Edgar Covarrubias-Padilla was arrested May 7th on child pornography charges. Earlier this week, prosecutors filed additional charges against Covarrubias-Padilla, including committing a lewd and lascivious act on a child under the age of 14 and production and distribution of child pornography.

Edgar Covarrubias-Padilla

Edgar Covarrubias-Padilla

The 27-year-old was a counselor known as “Papa Bear” at Walden West Science Camp for fifth- and sixth-grade students in unincorporated Saratoga.

On Thursday, U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) demanded to know whether administrators of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program–allowing undocumented children brought to the U.S. to avoid deportation and retain a work permit–knew of the criminal investigation. According to Grassley’s office, a whistleblower alerted the senator about the investigation.

Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in a letter that it was known as early as November that Covarrubias-Padilla was the subject of a federal investigation into child exploitation and pornography.


Despite the probe, Grassley told Johnson that Covarrubias-Padilla kept his work permit and was protected from deportation through his participation in the DACA program, begun by the Obama administration in 2012.

Grassley’s letter said Covarrubias-Padilla was brought into the country illegally as a child and successfully applied in 2012 for deportation protection under the DACA program.

On Thursday, the family of a 10-year-old who attended Walden West filed a claim against Santa Clara County Office of Education, which hired Covarrubias-Padilla who was the night manager at the camp.

The family’s attorney Nina Shapirshteyn said the county failed to follow its own rules at the camp–among them a requirement that adult not be alone with a child–which led to the molestation. “The fact that the county already had this rule in place is a testament to how important it is not to allow an adult to be with a child alone. In this case, that adult happened to be a pedophile.”

Shapirshteyn said was extra disturbing because the children were actually encouraged to go see him when they were sick, or homesick or felt sad at night.