A Los Banos police officer was arrested Wedensday on allegations he had sexual relations with his students while working as a teacher at Los Banos High School.
The Merced County District Attorney’s Office charged Dusty Norris, 37, with multiple sex offenses which are alleged to have occurred while he was working as a high school teacher for the Los Banos Unified School District, prior to becoming a police officer.
According to investigators with the District Attorney's Investigations Division, the crimes came to light during the Los Banos Police Department's investigation of another Los Banos High School teacher, Gary Bettencourt. Bettencourt, 40, and a Turlock resident has also been charged with multiple sex offenses along with his girlfriend Devyn Egan, 22, also of Turlock. Their criminal case is currently proceeding through the courts.
Norris, worked as a High School ROP Construction Tech Instructor during the 2004 to 2007 school years. He began working for the Los Banos Police Department in 2007, becoming a full time sworn police officer in 2008. It is alleged that during his years as a high school instructor he had sexual contact with multiple high school aged girls who were students in his classes.
When the allegations first came to light, the Los Banos Police Department placed Norris on administrative leave and asked the Merced County District Attorney's Office to conduct the investigation.
"As a Police Department, we hold ourselves to a higher standard and we want the public to know that we are committed to the safety of those who live in and visit the City of Los Banos,” said Jason Hedden, acting Los Banos Chief of Police. “It is for that reason we asked the District Attorney's Office to investigate these allegations."
During a lengthy investigation, D.A. investigators interviewed numerous witnesses, served search warrants and collected evidence, all of which substantiated the allegations.
"It is never a good thing for law enforcement to have to investigate one of its own," Chief Deputy District Attorney Harold Nutt said. "We like to believe that police officers are above reproach and we are certain that the overwhelming majority are. However, occasionally it happens that one may engage in criminal behavior. Both the District Attorney's office and the Los Banos Police Department have taken these allegations very seriously, as we always do. Children should be able to learn in a safe and non-threatening environment. For that reason, we will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who violate the trust placed upon them by society."