Chain | Cohn | Stiles Responds To Most Recent Arrest Of Former McFarland Coach As Sexual Misconduct Civil Case Continues

December 8, 2021 | 11:13 am


Editor’s Note: A former McFarland High basketball coach was sentenced to state prison after he promised a 15-year-old boy a spot on the varsity team in exchange for sexual favors. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is representing the victim in his sexual misconduct civil case. The former coach, Fernando Pruneda, was recently arrested again for allegedly attempting to contact an underage person for sex. Attorney Matt Clark provided a statement in a press release sent to local media — it is below. For full media coverage, please scroll to the bottom of the page.  

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In light of the most recent arrest and probation violation by former McFarland High School basketball coach Fernando Pruneda for alleged sexual misconduct, Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark provides the following statement on behalf of the victim from Pruneda’s previous arrest regarding the ongoing civil matter:

“We feel it is necessary to bring light to these cases where local school districts are employing sexual predators. In our case, McFarland Unified High School District employed Pruneda, and there are allegations that the school district knew or should have known of his impropriety, including such things as calling the student out of regular class for massages. This should serve as a reminder to all schools that their employees are mandated reporters, and if someone is calling a student out of class without substantial justification, it is cause for concern. It’s incumbent on the schools to investigate any suspicion of abuse, especially sexual abuse by a school employee.

In light of the most recent allegations, it appears Mr. Pruneda has not learned his lesson. Based on our firm’s history of handling these types of cases, Mr. Pruneda’s conduct is consistent with other sexual predators, as he is alleged to have continued with the same bad conduct. The civil case is ongoing, and despite the alleged criminal acts, the McFarland Unified School District has yet to accept any responsibility for its employee’s abhorrent conduct.”

According to reports, Pruneda was arrested by the Kern County Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 13 for allegedly attempting to arrange a meeting with a minor to commit a sexual offense. The civil suit is based upon the same wrongdoing.

In the previous criminal case from 2018, Pruneda pleaded no contest to contacting a minor to commit a sexual offense, was sentenced to two years in prison, and was required to register as a sex offender. Investigations revealed Pruneda was attempting to get sexual favors from a junior varsity basketball player and threatened not to put him on the varsity team if the player resisted. That civil case against the school district is ongoing. A trial date is scheduled for April 25, 2022.

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Here’s what you can do if you’ve been sexually assaulted or abused:

  • Call for help: Always call the police, a rape hotline or both following any form of sexual assault or abuse. This can be difficult to do, but the sooner you get in touch with someone, the sooner justice can be served.
  • See a doctor: Seek immediate medical care following a rape or sexual abuse scenario. Hospitals often have specialists trained to help in these types of situations and they often have someone on staff that can help with the stress.
  • Contact an attorney: After you have taken all the aforementioned steps, contact a legal professional, who has understanding of sexual abuse law.

If you or someone you know experienced sexual assault and is seeking resources, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

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2018 ARREST MEDIA COVERAGE

2021 ARREST MEDIA COVERAGE

CCS represents family of woman killed in crash with Sheriff’s deputy

October 6, 2014 | 9:07 am


On Sept. 28, 72-year-old Nancy Joyce Garrett was driving her vehicle at the intersection of North Chester Avenue and China Grade Loop in Oildale when she was struck and killed by a Kern County Sheriff’s Department patrol vehicle. Garrett’s family has retained the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Below is the news release sent by CCS to local media, followed by the subsequent various news coverage:

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles represents family of woman killed in crash with Sheriff’s deputy

Bakersfield, Calif. (Oct. 1, 2014) – By all accounts, Nancy Joyce Garrett was a friendly neighbor, a caregiver for our community, an active blogger, and most importantly, the pillar of her family. Nancy, 72, had been a drug and alcohol counselor for the Kern County Mental Health Department, and had also volunteered her time as a substance abuse counselor for STEPS, a local nonprofit that provide DUI awareness services.

Nancy passed away early Sunday morning when Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Clerico collided with the vehicle she was driving at the intersection of North Chester Avenue and China Grade Loop in Oildale. She had just returned to Bakersfield from a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game she attended with her family and friends.

Nancy leaves behind a son, Mark, and a daughter, Deborah, along with grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Ms. Garrett’s family has retained the Bakersfield personal injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles to represent them in this case. Her family is still mourning and requests that their privacy be respected at this time.

Mark McGowan, her son, stated: “We are all devastated. My mother was the most loving woman that you could ever meet. To see her go like this, under such tragic circumstances, breaks our heart. We hope that with time the truth is revealed and that future tragedies like this never happen again. In the meantime, the family requests that the media and members of the public respect our privacy out of deference to my mother.”

The California Highway Patrol’s MAIT Team is currently conducting an investigation of the collision.

Partner Matthew C. Clark added: “What we know at this time is that Nancy Joyce Garrett was a wonderful human being who had devoted her life to giving back to the community. Our hope and expectation is that the CHP will conduct a thorough investigation of this collision. We will not rush to any conclusions in the meantime, and we ask that the public do the same. But we promise to get to the bottom of what happened, and of course, as we learn more about the collision, we will share that information with the public.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles also represented the family of Daniel Ace Hiler, who was hit and killed by Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy John Swearengin more than two years ago. That case resulted in a combined $8.8 million settlement.


1430 Truxtun Avenue, Suite 100 – Bakersfield, CA – 93301 – Phone: 661-323-4000

CHAIN | COHN | STILES is Kern County’s leading plaintiffs’ personal injury law firm, voted Bakersfield’s “Best Law Firm” in The Bakersfield Californian’s Readers Choice Poll the last two years in a row. Our Bakersfield personal injury attorneys have represented clients from throughout the San Joaquin Valley and California for 80 years. We concentrate our efforts on protecting the rights of individuals who have been seriously injured due to the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another. If you have been injured due to the fault of another, you have the right to hold that person or entity accountable, no matter how rich or powerful that person or entity may be. At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, we pride ourselves on having the reputation and resources necessary to overcome the most difficult challenges while achieving the best possible results for our clients.

For more information, go to chainlaw.com, and visit our blog to stay up to date on firm news: chainlawblog.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter (@chainlaw), Instagram, LinkedIn, Yelp, Pintrest and Google+

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This crash has been covered extensively by Kern County media. Below are some of the news articles and videos of the crash, and the coverage following the news release.

Following the release to local media, several local media outlets informed the public of the news.

And lastly, CCS attorney Matthew Clark spoke with The Bakersfield Californian’s CEO Richard Beene on the live streamed news show “First Look with Scott Cox” regarding the case. Catch the coverage here: