Crime

Los Banos teacher, girlfriend charged in sex-with-teenager case

Gary A. Bettencourt, 40, has been charged with 13 felonies, including unlawful sexual intercourse, oral copulation with a minor and lewd acts upon a child, according to Merced Superior Court records.
Gary A. Bettencourt, 40, has been charged with 13 felonies, including unlawful sexual intercourse, oral copulation with a minor and lewd acts upon a child, according to Merced Superior Court records. Merced County Sheriff’s Department

A Los Banos high school teacher faces nearly a decade in prison if convicted of felony charges accusing him of sexual relationships with multiple students dating back to 2003, according to Merced Superior Court records.

Gary A. Bettencourt, 40, has been charged with 13 felonies, including unlawful sexual intercourse, oral copulation with a minor, and lewd acts upon a child, prosecutors confirmed.

If convicted, the 40-year-old Pacheco High School English teacher could face up to nine years and four months in state prison and be required to register as a sex offender for life, according to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office.

Bettencourt was arrested Wednesday at his Turlock home. He posted bail Thursday and was released from the Merced County jail, according to booking records.

His girlfriend and co-defendant, 22-year-old Devyn M. Egan, also was arrested Wednesday. Egan has been charged with six felony counts, including unlawful sexual intercourse and oral copulation with a minor, court records show.

She faces up to six years in state prison and also would be required to register as a sex offender if convicted, prosecutors said.

Egan remained in custody Friday at the John Latorraca Correctional Center with bail set at $165,000, according to records.

Attorneys representing the two defendants did not return telephone messages seeking comment Friday. Efforts to reach Bettencourt by telephone Friday also were unsuccessful.

Both defendants briefly appeared in court late Thursday, but neither entered a plea. Their arraignments were rescheduled for Feb. 10 at the courthouse in Los Banos, court records show.

Bettencourt and Egan have been accused of having sex with one of Bettencourt’s students, a 17-year-old girl, multiple times from April through June of last year, according to the court records.

Bettencourt also has been charged with having sexual relationships with at least two other underage victims. He is charged with committing lewd acts on a 15-year-old girl in late 2003 and early 2004 and oral copulation with another girl who was under 18 in late 2006, according to court records.

Travis Colby, the Merced County deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, confirmed that a third person has been added to the case against Bettencourt, but declined to elaborate on any details of the case.

Details regarding the third person claimed to have been a victim were unavailable Friday.

Egan graduated from Los Banos High School in 2011 and had been a student in one of Bettencourt’s classes, authorities said.

Both have been under investigation since September 2015, when Los Banos school officials first notified police of allegations against Bettencourt. He has been on administrative leave from the district since that time.

Egan regularly worked as a substitute teacher in Stanislaus County from September until her arrest Wednesday, during the time police were investigating her on suspicion of sex crimes with a teenager, officials confirmed.

Police said they reported the allegations against Egan to the Stanislaus County Office of Education in September, but district officials say they never received that message.

Judy Leitz, the Stanislaus County Office of Education’s communication coordinator, said that had district officials been aware of the investigation, they would have consulted with attorneys to determine the best course of action.

“We’re looking into where that communication may have broken down and I know there will be some follow-up,” Leitz said. “The safety of our students is our top priority.”

Leitz said the county office has 518 substitute teachers it can use and that each is extensively screened in a vetting process she said “goes above and beyond” requirements of the state Justice Department.

“We also have them come in and meet face-to-face with our human resources director; it’s something we’ve already been doing,” she said. “I think it’s important to remember that at least 99.5 percent of our teachers are great and have no problems.”

Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482

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