Turkey Hotline: Local chefs offer Thanksgiving meal help. Call 844-289-6395

Ex-Vista basketball coach pleads guilty to molest charge

VISTA, Calif. – A former Vista High School varsity boys’ basketball coach who had inappropriate sexual contact with an underage female student pleaded guilty Tuesday to a  misdemeanor child molest charge and was immediately sentenced to probation and ordered not to teach, mentor or counsel female minors.

Charlie Jesus Mercado Jr., 37, surrendered to authorities a year ago after learning that a warrant had been issued for his arrest.

On May 11, 2016, a junior at Vista High told administrators that she was in an “inappropriate relationship” with Mercado, according to sheriff’s Lt. Dan Brislin.

During the investigation, detectives discovered that Mercado fostered an intimate relationship with the teen and on one occasion met her off campus and they engaged in inappropriate physical contact, the lieutenant said.

Mercado, a walk-on coach who had been employed at Vista High since 2005, was fired shortly after the allegations arose, school officials said.

As part of his sentence, Mercado will be required to do 30 days of public work service.