A Merced High School science teacher was arrested last week after he allegedly was caught by a patrolling Merced County sheriff’s deputy in a parked pickup truck engaged in “inappropriate physical contact” with a 16-year-old student.
Blia Yang, 30, was booked into Merced County Jail about 7:30 p.m. Friday on one count of oral copulation with a minor under 18 and one count of sexual intercourse with a minor under 18. He posted bail and was released from custody a short time later, according to booking records.
Yang has taught physics, Advanced Placement chemistry and other classes at Merced High School for five years, according to the school district website. He has been placed on administrative leave, district officials said.
Sgt. Delray Shelton was returning to the sheriff’s office around 4:45 p.m. Friday, driving on 21st Street, in front of the Merced County Courthouse and around the corner from the Sheriff’s Office, when he spotted a female seated in the driver’s seat of four-door Toyota pickup truck. She was seated with her back to steering wheel, Shelton told the Sun-Star.
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“I went to make contact and observed an adult male and younger female in the truck,” Shelton said.
Yang and the girl initially claimed they came to the park to play “Pokemon Go” and Yang fell asleep, deputies said.
Evidence inside the truck, however, led Shelton to believe the two were engaged in inappropriate sexual activities. He did not comment on the alleged evidence. Upon further investigation, Shelton said, the 16-year-old admitted to “an ongoing sexual relationship” with Yang, her teacher.
“We believe the relationship had been going on for at least a month, but the case is still under investigation,” Shelton said.
Yang denied engaging in anything inappropriate with the student, deputies said.
Merced Union High School District officials said in a statement on Monday that Yang was placed on administrative leave. The district was notified of the arrest by law enforcement and is fully cooperating with the investigation, said Ralph Calderon, assistant superintendent for human resources.
“Protecting the health and safety of our students is the top priority of the Merced Union High School District,” the statement said.
In a short biography on his class website, Yang said he was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and arrived in the U.S. to Modesto when he was 6 years old. He graduated from Modesto High School in 2005 and earned his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sacramento, where he also earned his teaching credential the year after.
“I have a passion for science and I hope you will see this in my classes,” the biography read.
Yang told investigators he is originally from Fresno and recently moved to Merced after living for a time in Modesto, deputies said.
Merced Police Department detectives have taken over the investigation as the allegations appear to have happened within their jurisdiction, according to Detective Sgt. Curt Gorman.
Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482