California

Coach charged in 2 rapes accused in 5 new cases as calls pour in, Calif. cops say

A California high school coach was arrested last week after he was accused of raping two unconscious victims — and now he’s facing a growing number of additional sexual assault accusations, according to local authorities.

In two cases from 2009 and 2015, John Fickas, a 48-year-old Salinas political consultant, has already been booked following months of investigation by local police and county deputies, according to the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office.

But after his Thursday arrest, authorities said calls started pouring in — anywhere from 30 to 60 each day — complaining about the field hockey and track and field coach, KSBW reports. The TV station reported that “the rape case against a Salinas field hockey coach is growing so fast that investigators have identified five more victims,” including victims who are “minors, adults, male and female,” said Monterey County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bryan Hoskins.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Hoskins said, adding that callers are reaching out from across California because Fickas was involved in rabbit shows and raised the animals, KSBW reports.

In the earlier reported cases, Fickas faces two counts of rape by use of drugs, two counts of rape of an unconscious person, one count of sodomy of an unconscious person and one count of sodomy by anesthesia, according to the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office.

Fickas’ bail was set at $400,000, but a representative for the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office said he posted bail and was released by Friday morning, the Salinas Californian reported.

A criminal complaint against Fickas said one victim was a minor and that in both cases he used drugs to incapacitate his victims, according to the newspaper.

The Sheriff’s Office investigated the 2009 case, while the Salinas Police Department investigated the 2015 case — both of which “showed striking similarities,” despite the fact that the victims don’t know each other and reported the rapes to authorities months apart, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Sheriff’s Office described Fickas as “a well-known political consultant for numerous local area political campaigns and a ‘walk on, off-campus’ coach for North Salinas high school,” and said he recruited high schoolers in the area to volunteer on campaigns to fulfill community service hours. He also was a former Santa Rita Union School District board member, the Californian reported.

“We are shocked to learn about the recent arrest of one of our walk on, off-campus, coaches,” the Salinas Union High School District said in a statement, according to the Californian. “Certainly this is a disturbing set of allegations and as we learn more about the details we will address the matter consistent with the law and our policies.”

The district said Fickas was put on administrative leave once the school heard of the investigation, the Californian reported.

Authorities said they believed “there may be additional victims of Fickas in our community. We are asking anyone with information about Fickas to contact Det. Sgt. Bryan Hoskins at 831-755-3773 or Det. Rosy Silva at 831-755-3818.”

People have complained of Fickas throwing parties at his home and giving alcohol to minors, according to KSBW.

Fickas is also facing felony charges from October 2018 when he was accused of abusing rabbits that he breeds, Monterey County Weekly reports, adding that he runs a company named “Salad Bowl Rabbitry” with his brother.

An investigator in that case wrote in an affidavit that as many as 50 rabbits were discovered in a filthy shed on Fickas’ property and that “the floor was so urine saturated that a 120 pound SPCA employee fell through the floor,” according to the Californian.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
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