A Tehachapi community activist appeared in court Thursday on charges he had sex with two boys. 26-year-old Steven Vogel was in a Mojave courtroom and 17 News spoke with his mother about the allegations against her son.
"What Steven did, absolutely horrendous. Right now, he's just alleged. If he did, I don't know. But, I don't believe he's a monster," said Bonnie Mackenzie, Steven Vogel's mother.
Andrew Blanco, Vogel's court-appointed attorney, entered not guilty pleas to five felony charges on his behalf. Judge John Oglesby kept Vogel's bail at $200,000.
"If he [Vogel] did what he did, he deserves to be punished for it," said Mackenzie. "I'm aware that Steven is gay. He watches a lot of gay porn. I was not aware he was into younger males. He never brought any to our home."
"I know he goes on gay hookup sites and he told me this young man solicited him. He was told he was 18," she continued.
Senior Deputy Wes Kraft told 17 News that Vogel met his alleged victims on a Smartphone app called Jackd. The app lets someone know if any nearby gay men are interested in hanging out.
Kraft said Vogel's first victim came forward January 4th. "After meeting the victim online, he met with the suspect and picked him up from his residence and drove him to a rural area," said Kraft.
"Approximately a month later, another victim came forward and identified the same suspect," he continued.
Vogel's mother met with the mother of one alleged victim outside the courtroom.
"She told me that she felt bad for me too. We're both moms. There's just something there when you're a mom, unconditional love and feelings," she said.
According to Vogel's website, he worked at Keller Williams Realty in Tehachapi, where he's lived for the last twelve years.
Vogel lists himself as the first president of the Tehachapi Anti-Bullying Coalition. However, the group said he is no longer active.
On the website, Vogel also said he served on the Strategic Planning Committee for the Tehachapi Unified School District. Records show he ran for the school board in November, but was not elected.
Court records show Vogel pleaded no contest in 2010 to a misdemeanor charge of furnishing a minor with tobacco and smoking paraphernalia.
On Thursday, the judge ordered Vogel not to have any contact with his alleged victims.