NEWARK — A Schilling Elementary School janitor was charged Thursday with two felony counts of lewd conduct with a 9-year-old girl who attends an afterschool program on the campus.

Manuel Joseph Castro, 61, of Newark, was arraigned in the Fremont Hall of Justice for incidents that occurred in December and again last month, police said.

Castro lured the child with candy to step out of view of other children and adults, and, once alone, touched her inappropriately, investigators said.

The charges include an enhancement clause, meaning that if found guilty, Castro could serve a longer sentence than usual in state prison, Deputy District Attorney Danielle London said.

"These are serious felonies," she said.

Newark officers learned of the allegations Jan. 30 and school officials reassigned Castro to work at the district's corporation yard — where he would have no contact with children — until police had enough information to arrest him Tuesday, police Commander Bob Douglas said.

Schools Superintendent Kevin Harrigan would not say if Castro remains employed with the Newark school district but said the district is cooperating with police.

"The district is acting with integrity and in support of appropriate policies and procedures to ensure safety," Harrigan said. He added that district employees are screened thoroughly as part of the hiring process.


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"All employees of the district, prior to being offered employment, must be fingerprinted "... and the clearance must be received from the California Department of Justice," he said.

As of Thursday afternoon, Castro had not posted the $120,000 bail that was set and, according to an officer at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, remained in custody.

Anyone with information about the case may contact police Sgt. David Parks at 510-578-4247. Individuals also may leave an anonymous tip on the Silent Witness hot line at 510-578-4000, ext. 500.

Reach Linh Tat at 510-353-7010 or ltat@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read her blog postings at www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat.