Former Toppenish High teacher Bertha Cerna charged with having sex with student | Crime And Courts | #teacher | #children | #kids

An arrest warrant has been issued for a former Toppenish High School teacher accused of having sex with a student and offering alcohol to two students.

Bertha Adriana Cerna

Bertha Adriana Cerna, 40, was charged in Yakima County Superior Court Friday with first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor and two counts of furnishing liquor to minors. The warrant sets bail at $50,000.

The charges follow a recent admission by a former student that Bertha Cerna had sex with him while he was a minor.

Cerna and her husband, John L. “Johnny” Cerna, were fired from the school district following an investigation by the school district into a student’s allegations that the pair had plied her with alcohol and tried to get her into a sexual relationship with Johnny Cerna.

Johnny and Bertha Cerna are, respectively, the son and daughter-in-law of school superintendent John Cerna.

“I have no comment. (Expletive) you. You can report that,” Bertha Cerna said when contacted Tuesday for comment.

Court records indicate no charges have been filed against Johnny Cerna.

Johnny Cerna was a vice principal and wrestling coach at the school, while Bertha Cerna was a teacher and wrestling cheer team coach at the school.

Yakima County Sheriff’s detectives began investigating the case in June 2021 after a student told another teacher at the school about inappropriate text messages Johnny Cerna sent to her.

She told detectives that from January to April 2021 she had been offered alcohol several times, and sometimes she would drink, according to a probable cause affidavit. She had on her phone a picture of herself with an alcoholic beverage with Bertha Cerna, and another one of her and Bertha Cerna hugging with what appeared to be an alcoholic beverage in the picture, the affidavit said.

A former student told detectives that while she was a cheerleader, Bertha and Johnny Cerna gave her alcohol at their home, the affidavit said. She also identified a recent graduate from Toppenish High who was having sex with Bertha Cerna.

According to an affidavit, that student described in a June interview with detectives a sexual encounter he had with Bertha Cerna in her car at a ball field two days before his graduation from high school, when he was 17. During the encounter, Bertha Cerna offered him an alcoholic drink and what appeared to be cocaine, the affidavit said, which he declined.

He described another incident when he was still 17 and Bertha Cerna had sex with him at her house and offered to get him alcohol, which he refused, the affidavit said.

The school district’s investigation found it was “more probable than not” that Johny Cerna engaged in inappropriate online conversations with a student, and that Bertha Cerna encouraged that relationship. It also found it was “more probable than not” that the Cernas gave the student alcohol.

The student who first brought the matter to light has filed a $500,000 tort claim against the school district.

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