Santa Barbara youth program staffer raped 14-year-old mentee, lawsuit alleges


A former staff member for a Santa Barbara youth entrepreneurship program allegedly raped a female mentee of his, who was 14 years old at the time, according to a lawsuit filed last month in Santa Barbara County Superior Court. [KSBY]

Then Youth Interactive staffer Jonathan Hernandez allegedly sexually abused the girl twice in 2014. During one of the incidents, Hernandez is accused of offering marijuana prior to sexually assaulting the teen, the lawsuit alleges.

Youth Interactive is a nonprofit described as an after-school entrepreneurial arts academy. The alleged victim became involved with the organization as an “at-risk” 14-year-old in 2014.

The teen was being mentored by 25-year-old Jonathan Hernandez, an artist and Youth Interactive mentor.

In the spring of 2014, Youth Interactive CEO Nathalie Gensac brought the girl over to her Montecito home. Hernandez, who would sometimes spend the night at Gensac’s home, was also there. 

Gensac and Hernandez were drinking red wine and smoking marijuana, the latter of which they offered to the teen. The group was also watching the film Pulp Fiction at the time. 

After Gensac went to bed, Hernandez raped the 14-year-old girl on the sofa, according to the lawsuit.

Following the incident, the teen was transferred to the home of Emily Griffith, a coordinator who oversaw all program participants and mentors. Griffith told the alleged victim she knew she had sex with Hernandez and it went unreported to police, even though Youth Interactive is a mandatory reporter of child abuse, according to the suit.

Several months later, the alleged victim was sexually assaulted a second time by Hernandez, this time at the Youth Interactive office. 

In Jan. 2017, the alleged victim told Gensac she was raped by Hernandez inside Gensac’s home in 2014. Gensac did not report the allegation to police, according to the suit.

When contacted by KSBY, Gensac said she had yet to be served with the suit and that she cannot comment on the allegations. Gensac also said Hernandez and Griffith are no longer part of Youth Interactive.