Watch CBS News

Montara Elementary School Custodian Charged With Sexually Abusing Children

MONTARA (CBS SF) -- A San Mateo County elementary school custodian is facing a slew of felony charges for allegedly sexually abusing three children at a Montara-area school.

A resource officer at Farallone View Elementary School learned of the allegations on Sept. 25 and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office launched an investigation.

The investigation went on for months until authorities issued an arrest warrant for the janitor, 54-year-old Joel Cortez Altamirano, on Thursday.

He was arrested and scheduled to be arraigned Friday afternoon in San Mateo County Superior Court but the arraignment was postponed until next week. He is being held at the Maguire Correctional Facility on $1 million bail.

Court records indicate that the alleged abuse occurred more than a year ago, in August 2016 and January 2017.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said the three girls who reported the abuse were 10 and 11 years old at the time. Wagstaffe said Altamirano touched and grabbed the children inappropriately.

Sheriff's deputies said they are concerned there may be more victims and asked any parents or community members who believe a child may have been abused to call detectives at (650) 363-4064 or email

Jane Yuster, superintendent for the Cabrillo Unified School District, said in a letter that officials put Altamirano on leave as soon as they learned of the allegations.

Altamirano was not allowed to have any contact with school children or go on campus during that time.

Yuster said in the letter that officials were "in the process" of firing Altamirano while sheriff's deputies were investigating him. It's unclear if he was in fact fired or is still employed by the district, and Yuster didn't immediately return a phone call asking for more information.

Yuster said Altamirano was a longtime employee who passed fingerprint and background checks when he was hired.

"The district is ... deeply saddened for the involved students and their families," she said.

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.