Former Washington Teacher Arrested in California on Sex Charges


Former Toppenish High School teacher Bertha Adriana Cerna is in custody in California.

Cerna, 40, was booked into the Orange County jail Sunday, according to jail records. She is scheduled to appear in court there on Tuesday.

Cerna, 40, was charged in Yakima County Superior Court with first-degree sexual misconduct with a minor and two counts of furnishing liquor to minors. A warrant for her arrest set bail at $50,000.

Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic said he was informed early Monday that Cerna had been arrested.

"We had gotten some leads on where she was working," Brusic said. "It was a matter of picking her up."

If she waives extradition at Tuesday's hearing, Brusic said Yakima County sheriff's detectives will head down and bring her back. If she refuses to waive her return, Brusic said his office will have 90 days to obtain a governor's warrant to bring her back to stand trial in Washington.

Bertha Cerna and her husband, John L. "Johnny" Cerna, were fired from the school district following an investigation by the district into a student's allegations that the pair had plied her with alcohol and tried to get her into a sexual relationship with Johnny Cerna.

Further investigation led Yakima County sheriff's detectives to a former Toppenish High School student who described two sexual encounters with Bertha Cerna while he was 17, according to court documents.

No criminal charges have been filed against Johnny Cerna at this time, according to court records.

The school district's investigation found it was "more probable than not" that Johnny Cerna engaged in inappropriate online conversations with a student, and that Bertha Cerna encouraged that relationship. It also found it was "more probable than not" that the Cernas gave the student alcohol.

The student who first brought the matter to light has filed a $500,000 tort claim against the school district.