Costa Mesa High locked down briefly after sighting of L.A. County deputy suspected of molestation

Jovanni Argueta
(Courtesy Costa Mesa Police Department.)

Authorities briefly locked down Costa Mesa High School on Monday morning when a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy suspected of molesting a middle-school student was seen on campus, according to the school’s principal.

“This morning the Los Angeles County sheriff arrested two weeks ago for having an inappropriate relationship with a minor was reported to have been in the north Costa Mesa High School parking lot,” Principal Jacob Haley wrote in an email.

Police last month said they suspected Jovanni Argueta, 26, of meeting a 12-year-old Costa Mesa Middle School girl through an online computer game and sexually abusing her.

Authorities alleged that Argueta and the girl, now 13, met multiple times on campus and elsewhere, with some of those meetings involving sexual acts.

On Oct. 22, Costa Mesa Middle School staff called police to report an unfamiliar man on the campus that the middle school and Costa Mesa High School share at 2650 Fairview Road.

Police said they identified that man as Argueta and learned of the suspected relationship with the student. He was arrested Oct. 28 and is free on $100,000 bail, according to police and jail records.

On Monday, Haley said Argueta was seen leaving the parking lot at Costa Mesa High.

“As soon as this was reported, we initiated emergency operations and contacted the Costa Mesa Police Department,” Haley wrote.

Police said they locked down the campus about 8 a.m. and searched the area. When officers couldn’t find any intruder, they reopened the campus about 9 a.m., Costa Mesa police Lt. Greg Scott said.

Argueta has not been charged with a crime. Prosecutors still are investigating the case, according to Roxi Fyad, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney’s office.

“With cases like this, we just want to make sure that we have all the pertinent information,” Fyad said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department could not confirm Argueta’s status with the department on Monday morning.