Director ‘shocked’ by social worker sex allegations

The director of the San Mateo County Human Services Agency said Wednesday¬†she is “horrified” by allegations that one of her employees was arrested on suspicion of having sex with a 16-year-old girl he was supposed to help.

It was not the first accusation of inappropriate conduct against Department of Children and Family Services social worker Manuel Sedillo, according to agency director Iliana Rodriguez.

San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies arrested Sedillo, 38, of Santa Clara, at about 12:15 p.m. Tuesday in Palo Alto on suspicion of unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under 18, oral copulation with a person under 18, sexual penetration with a person under 18, and disseminating sexual imagery to a person under 18 years old.

Earlier this month, sheriff’s officials said a 16-year-old girl reported she had been having sex with her prior social worker assigned by the San Mateo County Department of Children and Family Services.

Deputies said they opened an investigation with the support of Children and Family Services and found evidence corroborating the girl’s claims.

Rodriguez said her agency, which oversees Children and Family Services, first placed Sedillo on administrative leave on July 15 after receiving information regarding an alleged inappropriate relationship with another youth in his caseload. Rodriguez said the incidents were alleged to have occurred in another county.

Once she received the reports, Rodriguez said she immediately placed Sedillo on administrative leave and contacted law enforcement for a “rigorous investigation”:

“I was shocked and just horrified when I heard these allegations in July.”

She said the subsequent criminal investigation and an investigation by an external child welfare agency was deemed inconclusive. Regardless, Rodriguez said she found other issues with his job performance and did not reinstate him.

She said she issued a termination notice on Oct. 6 and Sedillo resigned on Oct. 24. Sedillo has been employed by the county since 2001 and with the department since 2006, Rodriguez said.

She said she could not disclose the age of the other alleged victim or the county in which the crimes were alleged to have occurred because they are now part of the new, ongoing investigation.

The department, along with law enforcement, is investigating Sedillo’s full caseload to see if any other victims are found. She said she could not estimate how many cases he might have handled during his eight years in the department.

Rodriguez said:

“It’s unfortunate because social workers’ goal is to support children and families and the image this leaves is really disheartening to the entire profession. This is not what the profession is about.”

Sedillo was booked into San Mateo County Jail and later posted $400,000 bail, deputies said. He is scheduled for arraignment on Dec. 1. Sheriff’s officials said they are concerned about the possibility that other girls may have been victimized.

Anyone who may have been victimized or who may have information about the case is asked to contact Detective Dan Hoss at (650) 363-4066 or dhoss@smcgov.org or Detective Jesse Myers at (650) 363-4050 or jrmyers@smcgov.org.