TOPPENISH, Wash. (AP) — A warrant has been issued for a fired Toppenish High School teacher accused of sexual misconduct with a student and offering alcohol to two students.
Bertha Cerna, 40, was charged in Yakima County Superior Court last week with first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor and two counts of supplying alcohol to minors, the Yakima reported. Herald-Republic.
The charges follow a former student who told authorities that Bertha Cerna had sex with him when he was underage.
Cerna and her husband Johnny Cerna were fired from the school district following a school district investigation into another student’s allegations that they knocked her out with alcohol and tried to get her to having sex with Johnny Cerna. He was not charged with a crime, according to court records.
Reached by the newspaper, Bertha Cerna said she had no comment followed by an expletive.
Johnny Cerna was an assistant principal and wrestling coach at the school and Bertha Cerna was a teacher and coach for the school wrestling team.
Yakima County Sheriff’s Detectives began investigating in 2021 after a student told another teacher about allegedly inappropriate text messages from Johnny Cerna.
She told detectives that as of 2021 she had been offered alcohol multiple times and occasionally drank, according to a probable cause affidavit.
A former student told detectives that Bertha and Johnny Cerna gave him alcohol at their house, according to the affidavit. She also identified a recent graduate who had sex with Bertha Cerna.
According to an affidavit, this student told detectives of a sexual encounter he had with Bertha Cerna in his car at a ball diamond when he was 17. During the encounter, Bertha Cerna offered him an alcoholic drink and what appeared to be cocaine, the affidavit says, which he refused.
He described another incident when Bertha Cerna had sex with him at her home and offered to get him alcohol, according to the affidavit.
The school district’s investigation found it was ‘more likely than not’ that Johny Cerna had inappropriate online conversations with a student and that Bertha Cerna encouraged the relationship. He also concluded that it was “more likely than not” that the Cernas gave the student alcohol.
The student who first brought the case to light has filed a $500,000 tort claim against the school district.
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