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UCLA ECE caregiver arrested for sexual battery, willful cruelty to a child

Janss Steps are pictured. Following the arrest of an Early Care and Education caregiver, the centers have increased security and changed the gate code. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Catherine Hamilton and Sharla Steinman

Feb. 22, 2024 2:21 p.m.

This post was updated Feb. 25 at 10:52 p.m.

Editor’s note: This post was updated to remove a photo of the Fernald Center, one of the UCLA Early Child Care and Education Centers. Christopher Rodriguez worked at the Krieger Center.

An Early Care and Education caregiver was arrested Wednesday on five misdemeanor charges, including sexual battery, false imprisonment and willful cruelty to a child.

Christopher Rodriguez worked for the University Village ECE Center from 2001 to 2020, as well as the Krieger Center from 1999 to 2001 and from 2020 to his leave. The UCLA Early Child Care and Education Centers, which include Krieger and University Village, provide care for children ages two months to six years for UCLA-affiliated families.

Although he was only charged by UCPD on Wednesday, he has been on academic leave since Dec. 18 following the beginning of a Title IX investigation.

According to an email sent to ECE families, the reports of inappropriate behavior that led to Rodriguez’s arrests involved mandated reports to the Child Abuse Hotline, the Department of Social Services/Community Care Licensing Division and UCPD.

In the email, Krieger staff said they have taken precautionary measures in response to the allegations, including changing the gate code, reminding teachers to be diligent in their observations and requesting additional UCPD patrols on its campus.

In an internal town hall meeting Wednesday about the allegations, multiple parents requested a private security guard to be present and for cameras to be installed around the campus. Also in the town hall, ECE administration said security would be present on campus Thursday.

ECE administrators said during the meeting that since the investigation is ongoing, they are unable to provide further details about the investigation. In an emailed statement, UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said the university is also unable to provide more information due to the “sensitive nature” of the situation.

Vazquez also said the university is focused on the safety of children in the university’s ECE centers.

“We are aware that a teacher in the Early Care and Education program has been arrested following an investigation regarding inappropriate contact with a minor student. These allegations are deeply concerning, and assault or sexual harassment of any kind is reprehensible and intolerable,” Vasquez said in the email. “Our top priority is the well-being and safety of children in our care.”

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Catherine Hamilton
Hamilton was the 2023-2024 News editor and a Copy staff member. She was previously the 2022-2023 national news and higher education beat editor and a national news contributor.
Hamilton was the 2023-2024 News editor and a Copy staff member. She was previously the 2022-2023 national news and higher education beat editor and a national news contributor.
Sharla Steinman | City and Crime Editor
Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.
Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.
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