Teacher accused of sex crime against student, giving alcohol to others in Washington

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A former Washington high school teacher is accused of sexual misconduct against a teen and giving alcohol to other students, authorities said.

Bertha Cerna, 40, was arrested on Sunday, Aug. 14 in Orange County, California, on a warrant issued by the Yakima County (Washington) Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 2, Yakima Prosecutor Joe Brusic said in an email.

She was arrested and faces charges of first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor and furnishing liquor to a minor, according to the sheriff’s Facebook post.

An extradition hearing will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 16, to determine if she will be returned to Washington, the sheriff’s office said.

Cerna is accused of performing a sex act with a 17-year-old student before he graduated from Toppenish High School, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported on Aug. 2.

The investigation into Cerna and her husband, John L. “Johnny” Cerna, who was a vice principal at the high school, began in June 2021, when a student reported that Johnny Cerna had an inappropriate online conversation with her, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

They were fired from their jobs. Online public court records do not show that any charges have been filed against Johnny Cerna.

One student told investigators Bertha Cerna offered her alcohol while she was at the teacher’s home, KVEW reported. Another former student and cheerleader said Cerna also offered her alcohol several times, the outlet reported.

The Toppenish School District “does not have a statement as she is not an employee of our District,” a spokesperson told McClatchy News.

Toppenish is about 160 miles southeast of Tacoma.

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