The Sonora High School varsity girls basketball coach was arrested Monday on suspicion of sexually abusing a 15-year-old student at Sonora High School.

Sgt. Andrea Benson with the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office said the abuse occurred over an extended period of time while the student was enrolled at the school, but the student was no longer enrolled there.

Information about the gender of the student or when the alleged abuse occurred has not been released.

“No further information will be released at this time to protect the integrity of the case as well as the privacy of the victim,” Benson said in an email.

A Sheriff’s Office press release stated that the office was notified about the alleged sexual abuse between a staff member and student that began when the student was 15.

The press release described the victim as a former student and a former participant in high school sports.

The Sheriff’s Office contacted Sonora Union High School District Superintendent Mark Miller regarding the allegation and to ensure the safety of students during the investigation.

The Sheriff’s Office uncovered enough evidence in the subsequent investigation to justify an arrest, according to the press release.

Amy Denise Emerald, 42, was arrested at 12:55 p.m. on Monday on suspicion of lewd or lascivious acts with a child 14 or 15 years old.

Her bail was set at $50,000. As of Monday afternoon she remained in custody at the Tuolumne County Jail.

The press release stated that Emerald became the varsity head coach of the Sonora High School basketball team in 2011. She was hired in 2001.

Emerald was also identified as a sports team coordinator.

Sonora Union High School District Superintendent Mark Miller said in an email he could not comment because the case is an “ongoing confidential investigation.”

A Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office press release credited to Cathy Parker stated that the office was made aware of the arrest Monday afternoon.

“Our districts are taking this seriously and are implementing the appropriate measures

following our board policies and education code in cooperation with law enforcement,” the press release stated.

Parker said Emerald is also an employee with the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office with the title of Coordinator II and will be placed on administrative leave.

The statement also urged caution, adding, “we encourage patience and restraint from unwarranted conclusions while the districts and law enforcement continue to complete their investigations.”

Parker said the statement was included to avoid speculation, especially over social media, immediately following the arrest.

“I have complete faith in the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department and the deputies and all the investigators involved,” Parker said. “We’re asking for patience as they work through the rest of the investigation.”

She said maintaining the safety of students is the first priority for county school districts.

Benson said the Sheriff’s Office is working collaboratively with the school district in the investigation.

The Sheriff’s Office has requested that anyone with information regarding the case contact their office at (209) 533-5815.

Emerald’s arrest comes on the heels of at least five child sexual abuse arrests in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties over the last three months.

Among them is Mona McGrady, 61, who was arrested in May on suspicion of sexually abusing female students in the 1990s while she was a basketball coach and physical education teacher at Mother Lode Christian School in Tuolumne.

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or gricapito@uniondemocrat.com . Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.

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