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Sunnyside school officials respond after middle-schoolers allegedly preyed on at recess

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. - The Sunnyside School District has responded after a Sunnyside police arrested a 37-year-old man accused of offering a 12-year-old girl $50 for sex

Rene Cervantez Manjarrez was allegedly seen talking to the girl and her 13-year-old friend during recess at Sierra Vista Middle School on Oct. 1.

The school district has released information about the incident. In its statement, the district also offered tips for concerned parents. 

"Monitor who your children are communicating with through social media, by text, and in person by keeping their passwords and staying up on what apps they are using...Let them know that if they see or hear something that isn't right, or that makes them feel funny, to speak up and tell someone they trust. We would always rather do an investigation and find out nothing is going on, then not do anything when something is going on. It's important to know your child's after-school habits, where they plan to be, and who they are with...Our goal aside from educating children, is to ensure they are safe and have the resources to speak up when they feel unsafe," the school district said in a statement.

The school's principal said she saw the interaction and notified police. 

The 13-year-old witness described the man as "creepy" to police but denied knowing why he was meeting up with the alleged victim at school. 

Police said the victim initially said Manjarrez was her cousin to avoid getting in trouble, later explaining that she met him at a birthday party. She said they exchanged numbers, and knew each other's age.

Text messages on the 12-year-old girl's phone show that she and Manjarrez discussed having sex, and that he offered to give her $50 if he couldn't "handle her."

Manjarrez was arrested on suspicion of communication with a minor for immoral purposes and criminal trespassing.

If you have concerns, or are looking for more information about keeping students safe, contact the Sunnyside School District at 509-837-5851. 

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