SAPD: 14-year-old Allegedly Sexually Assaulted at Middle College High

Kenji Kina booking photo courtesy Santa Ana PD

Santa Ana Police Detective Julio Gallardo arrested Kenji Kina, 20, on Sept. 23 for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old Middle College High School student, Santa Ana PD public information officer Anthony Bertagna says in an email. Middle College High sits within Santa Ana College, where Kina goes to school, Bertagna adds.

Middle College High is unusual, in that it’s actually part of a college. “All students are dual enrolled at both MCHS and Santa Ana College,” MCHS Principal Damon Voight states in a message posted on the MCHS website. “This dual enrollment offers our students a competitive advantage to prepare for the rigors of college and career.”

According to Bertagna, Kina met the victim on campus in February of this year. “On the morning of Feb. 14, 2019 (Valentine’s Day), Kina told the victim he wanted to show her a ‘cool place’ and took her to a secluded stairwell on campus,” Bertagna said. “Kina began ‘making out’ with the victim who said she was overcome with fear.” It was right after that, Bertagna said, that “Kina sexually assaulted the victim.”

Bertagna said the victim first reported the incident to SAPD in July, after talking to her doctor. “Kina’s identity was not known at the time of the initial report,” Bertagna said. “Detectives worked closely with campus safety officers to identify Kina. Once identified, detectives made arrangements to have Kina detained.”

After Kina’s Sept. 23 arrest, Bertagna said, “Kina admitted to engaging in sex acts with the victim and knowing she was only 14 years old.”

Kina was booked on multiple sexual assault charges and his bail has been set at $150,000, Bertagna added.

In response to an inquiry with Theresa Cisneros, the communications coordinator for the Santa Ana Unified School District–in which I asked, among other questions, what notices the school had sent to parents about the alleged assault–she provided the following statement:

The Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for each of the 48,000 students who attend our schools.

The District was notified about the alleged incident in July 2019, which reportedly took place on the Santa Ana College campus.

The health and safety of our students is of utmost importance. The District coordinated with the Santa Ana College security staff to assist with the Santa Ana Police Department investigation.

In the following days, District staff also followed campus protocols, which included providing support to both the parent and the student involved.

The District takes student safety very seriously.

We will continue to provide resources and support to the high school and will cooperate fully with the Santa Ana Police Department in its investigation.

Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.

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