October 13, 2017
A former Santa Clara County Probation Department counselor was arrested last month on suspicion of sexual misconduct with two minors in the probation department.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested 36-year-old Tricia Caparra. The arrest capped an investigation that began a year ago after one of the alleged victims came forward, according to county officials.
Caparra allegedly had sex on multiple occasions with a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old who were being held at the William F. James Boys Ranch in Morgan Hill, according to a report in The Mercy News.
“We were appalled to learn of this employee’s alleged abuse of a minor in our care, and we have worked closely with the sheriff and district attorney to ensure they have the information necessary to investigate and now prosecute this individual,” Chief Probation Officer Laura Garnette said in a statement.
Counselor Arrested on 17 Counts of Sexual Assault
Caparra was employed by the Santa Clara County Probation Department as a part-time counselor since 2009. She had been working full-time since 2013, according to county spokeswoman Laurel Anderson.
Caparra was arrested on 17 counts of sexual assault: 14 felonies and 3 misdemeanors. In addition, Caparra faces one felony count of accessing privileged information of one the victims. If Caparra is convicted, she faces a maximum of 11 years and six months in prison, according to prosecutor Luis Ramos, who is head of the District Attorney’s prosecution unit on sex crimes.
Caparra immediately was put on administrative leave and barred from any contact with youth when the alleged crimes were reported. The allegations were also reported to the sheriff’s office on the same day. Caparra resigned from her position on July 10th in the middle of the internal investigation.
“This employee violated the trust placed in our department,” Chief Probation Officer Garnette said. “This will not be tolerated. Our probation staff have worked compassionately to support both of these youth throughout this ordeal, and we remain committed to providing exemplary care to our youth.”
“The county has zero tolerance for these deplorable acts against clients in our care,” County Executive Jeff Smith said in a statement. “The department took immediate action to report the employee, and implemented steps to prevent this from happening in the future. We trust that the district attorney’s office will pursue this case to hold this former employee accountable.”
The James Ranch provides nearly 100 beds for boys ages 15½ to 18 years of age. While serving time at the ranch, boys work on earning a GED, receive vocational training, and participate in work programs on the ranch and other locations, such as the Santa Clara Valley Water District. They also do community service throughout Santa Clara County. In addition, the boys can also participate in substance abuse counseling and treatment programs, mental health counseling, sex offender counseling, anger management, gang intervention refusal skills, victim awareness, tattoo removal, and sports.
The County’s news release states that the investigation is ongoing.
These boys placed their trust in their counselor, and she allegedly violated that trust and the trust placed in the Santa Clara County Probation Department.
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