Woman arrested in Santa Cruz for sexually assaulting incarcerated teens

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - A former Santa Clara County probation officer has been arrested on 14 felony counts of alleged sexual assaults involving two juveniles who were incarcerated at the William F. James Boys Ranch, authorities announced Thursday.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office said Probation Counselor Tricia Caparra was arrested on Thursday in Santa Cruz. The 36-year-old faces a total of 17 counts of sexual assault (14 felonies; 3 misdemeanors). She also faces one felony charge for unlawful access to privileged information related to one of the victims.

Investigators said at the time of Caparra’s alleged conduct, one male was 17 years old and the other was 18 years old.

“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,” said Chief Probation Officer Laura Garnette. “We support the Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office in pursuing justice, and will continue cooperating with all aspects of the investigation and prosecution.”

Official said the criminal charges were the result of allegations reported to the Probation Department on September 3, 2016. The Department immediately placed Caparra on administrative leave and removed her from contact with all youth upon discovering the alleged crimes.

Probation officials launched an internal investigation and reported the employee’s conduct to the sheriff’s office the same day. Caparra resigned on July 10, 2017, while still under internal investigation by the department.

“This employee violated the trust placed in our Department. This will not be tolerated,” Garnette said. “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.”

Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, authorities were encouraging anyone who has information that might be helpful to the case to contact the Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Division at (408) 808-4500. Alternatively, you can contact the Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services Anonymous Tip line at (408) 808-4431.

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