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.


Topics: , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.