A Turlock man working as a high school teacher in Los Banos was taken into custody Wednesday on allegations he had sexual relations with two students.
Gary Bettencourt, 40, and his girlfriend Devyn Egan, 22, both of Turlock, were arrested on a variety of charges stemming from a five month investigation conducted by the Los Banos Police Department.
Bettencourt is charged with two counts of lewd acts with a child, two counts of oral copulation with a minor, five counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, and having contact/communication with a minor for the purpose of committing a criminal offense.
Egan is charged with three counts of oral copulation with a minor, two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, and having contact/communication with a minor for the purpose of committing a criminal offense.
The investigation into Bettencourt began in September 2015 when the police department learned of a possible inappropriate relationship between Bettencourt and a student. Bettencourt taught English and Drama at Pacheco High School in Los Banos.
At that time detectives interviewed an 18-year-old woman who stated she had an on-going sexual relationship with Bettencourt and Egan. The woman told detectives the relationship began in early 2015, when she was 17 years old and continued until June when she graduated from high school.
While investigating this case, detectives identified a second female victim, who reported being involved in an on-going sexual relationship with Bettencourt between the ages of 15 and 17 years old, while she was a student. The second victim is now 27 years old.
Both victims were students of Bettencourt's during the relationships; however, only the first victim reported being involved in a relationship with both Bettencourt and Egan.
As part of the investigation detectives served two search warrants in September 2015. One was for Bettencourt’s classroom and the other was for his and Egan’s residence in the 700 block of W. Minnesota Avenue in Turlock. Detectives seized several pieces of evidence during the two searches, including computers, other electronic devices, and DNA evidence.
“This investigation involved the review of thousands of messages via social media accounts, processing of cellular telephones, computer hard-drives, other electronic storage devices, and DNA evidence,” said Ray Reyna the Acting Police Chief at the Los Banos Police Department. “We relied heavily on the experts at the California Department of Justice to conduct forensic examinations of this evidence. Their assistance has proven to be very helpful in securing valuable evidence to corroborate our victims’ statements."
The Merced County District Attorney's Office issued arrest warrants for Bettencourt and Egan on Monday and they were taken into custody at their Turlock home without incident on Wednesday.
Bettencourt was placed on paid administrative leave since Sept. 23, 2015 when the allegations against him were first lodged. In a press release, the Los Banos Unified School District said they would follow the education code to place Bettencourt on unpaid administrative leave pending the resolution of the case against him.
“District staff has been and will continue to cooperate fully with the LBPD investigation,” the District stated in their press release. “The District takes these kinds of allegations very seriously. The safety of all students is the District's highest priority. We know that parents entrust the schools to look out for their children's well-being while at school and accordingly we are taking all necessary steps to ensure that all students experience a positive and safe learning environment.”
Bettencourt had been a teacher with the Los Banos Unified School District since 2002. He first taught at Los Banos High School and then moved to Pacheco High School in 2010.
Both Bettencourt and Egan were booked into the Merced County Jail. Bettencourt has a bail of $365,000 and Egan has a bail of $165,000.