Former high school teacher, coach sent to prison for stalking female students in Valley

Orlando Benitez
Orlando Benitez Special to The Bee

A former high school teacher and coach in Tulare County was sentenced to four years and four months in prison on Thursday for stalking female students while he was employed at Lindsay High School.

Orlando Benitez, 31, of Lindsay pleaded no contest in June to three felony counts of stalking, the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

The crimes occurred between May 2015 and May 2018 against three teenage girls between the ages of 14 and 17 at the time of the crimes.

“According to investigative reports, Benitez would text the females his sexually charged thoughts and would corner them at school when they would attempt to cease contact,” the district attorney’s office said. “During such requests, Benitez would threaten to harm himself and lay the blame on the victims. He would also become angry if he learned that the girls had relationships.”

Benitez must register as a sex offender for life. Officials said he didn’t have a prior criminal record.

Benitez was sentenced in Tulare County Superior Court.

The case was prosecuted within the district attorney’s Special Crimes Division and investigated by its Bureau of Investigations and the Lindsay Police Department.

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Carmen George is a features and news reporter for The Fresno Bee. Her stories have been recognized with Best of the West, George F. Gruner, and McClatchy President’s awards, and nine first or second place awards from the California News Publishers Association. She has a passion for sharing people’s stories to highlight issues and promote greater understanding.