LA Teacher Suspected of Molesting 20 Children
A fourth-grade teacher who worked nearly 40 years in the Los Angeles Unified School District has been arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing 20 students, a year after another veteran teacher accused of molesting nearly two dozen pupils brought national attention to the district and the problem of classroom sex abuse.
After a 10-month investigation, eight felony counts of continual sexual abuse and seven counts of lewd acts upon a child were filed Wednesday against Robert Pimentel, of Newport Beach, for abuse that allegedly took place at George De La Torre Jr. Elementary in the Wilmington area, officer Christopher No told The Associated Press.In addition to the 15 felonies, misdemeanor charges are expected for the remaining incidents, No said. Pimentel's bail has been set at $12 million, and an arraignment date hasn't been set.
The story leaves a lot of questions unanswered: how long had this been occuring? what were the genders and ages of the victims? why did it take 10 months to do the investigation?Police and school officials said Pimentel is also suspected of the sexual abuse of one adult, but they did not say what role, if any, that person had at the school.Pimentel, 57, left his fourth-grade teaching position last March when allegations arose from several girls who told their parents he inappropriately touched them during school and police opened an investigation.
That last one is puzzling. Why would it take 10 months? How long does it take to interview the victims and other witnesses? Perhaps, it took ten months because the investigators were going back 40 years? Who knows?
There have been several high-profile recent cases of Los Angeles teachers accused of sexually abusing students. More than 225 parents and students are involved in various claims for damages against the district after Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt was arrested a year ago and has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct.In December, a jury ordered the district to pay a boy molested by an elementary school teacher $6.9 million - among the largest awards in the history of the school system.
Of course, unlike suits against private entities, such as the Catholic Church, punitive damages are not available against school districts.The jury found the district liable for the repeated molestation of the 10-year-old student in 2008 and 2009 by teacher Forrest Stobbe at Queen Anne Elementary School in the city's mid-Wilshire district.