A teacher at one of UCLA’s child care centers was arrested and booked on suspicion of sexual abuse of a child, the school told parents Wednesday.

Christopher Rodriguez was arrested by the UCLA Police Department after other staff members reported his “concerning behavior” and “inappropriate contact with a minor student,” according to the university.

Rodriguez worked for the university’s Department of Early Care and Education, which provides child care and other services for UCLA students, faculty and staff with young children.

Rodriguez was charged with five misdemeanors, including single counts of false imprisonment, assault and willful cruelty to a child and two counts of sexual assault, said Christina Christie, dean of the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies.

While it was unclear exactly what led to Rodriguez’s arrest, UCLA said that after his colleagues reported him, he was placed on administrative leave and has not returned to ECE since.

Rodriguez was a long-time employee of the department, working at the university’s Krieger Center from 1999 to 2001, then at the University Village ECE Center until 2020, then returning to the Krieger Center from 2020 until he was placed on leave.

UCLA said Rodriguez had been on leave since Dec. 18, when the investigation into him was opened. It was unclear what date Rodriguez was arrested, or whether prosecutors filed formal charges against him.

The school said it has provided a team of child psychologists for children in its care, changed entry codes at the centers and is giving staff members refresher workshops on their legal duty to report suspected abuse or neglect.

“While we value and honor our commitment to an open and honest community, the sensitive nature of this situation limits what we can share with you,” the school wrote in the message to parents. “We also appreciate your respect for the privacy of the people involved.”

In a statement to the Times, UCLA called the allegations “deeply troubling.”

“Sexual assault or harassment of any kind is reprehensible and intolerable. “Our top priority is the well-being and safety of the children in our care,” the university said.

By Sam