Camp counselor faces child porn charges

A former science camp counselor in Santa Clara County who allegedly possessed hundreds of child pornography photos and videos is facing additional charges, a deputy district attorney said Wednesday.

Edgar Covarrubias, 27, appeared today in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose where he is now facing seven felony counts, Deputy District Attorney David Shabaglian said.

The counts include committing a lewd and lascivious act on a child under the age of 14 and possessing more than 600 images of child pornography and manufacturing and distributing child pornography, he said.

Shabaglian said it is a “very serious case” and “a parent’s worst nightmare” since the suspect was working in close proximity to children.

His bail was increased from $125,000 to $200,000 today, Shabaglian said.

Covarrubias did not enter a plea in court today and his next hearing is scheduled for June 30, according to Shabaglian.

Covarrubias was arrested on May 7 when Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant at Walden West Science Camp in unincorporated Saratoga where he was residing and found child pornography on his phone and computer, sheriff’s Sgt. James Jensen said.

Department of Homeland Security investigators had notified deputies that he was part of a group downloading and distributing child pornography internationally, Jensen said.

Walden West is a weeklong science program by the Santa Clara County Office of Education for fifth and sixth grade students.

Covarubbias had worked at the camp’s two locations in unincorporated Saratoga and Cupertino since August 2013 and served in various positions in which he had contact with students, county Office of Education spokesman Ken Blackstone said.

Covarrubias had undergone standard background screening procedures and fingerprint clearance by the U.S. Department of Justice, according to county education officials.

When he was arrested, he had been serving as night monitor at the Cupertino site, according to Blackstone.

Each staff member at the camp has a nickname relating to the program’s environmental theme. Students knew Covarrubias as “Papa Bear,” county education officials said.

Since the arrest, the county Office of Education has implemented additional safety protocols including added staff during overnight shifts and a student buddy system.

The county office has also reinforced its “Rule of 3,” in which a student and staff member are always in the presence of a third person, and changed its morning “wake-up procedure” by having two staff members knock on cabin doors instead of walking inside.

The Office of Education has launched an internal investigation relating to Covarubbias’s arrest and is cooperating with law enforcement, Blackstone said.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the Santa Clara County sheriff’s office’s sexual assault felony task force by calling (408) 808-4300 or sending an email to safetaskforce@sheriff.sccgov.org.