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-- April 16, 2011, Statement by New York City Police Officer Michael Daragjati, boasting of his false arrest of another African-American male.
Top News Story!
Published: Monday, February 3, 2014, 8:42 PM - Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2014, 3:35 AM
Riverside, CA -- A California educator who was confronted by a former student on YouTube last month has been charged with 16 felony counts of sexual abuse. Andrea Cardosa, 40, was charged Monday with five counts of aggravated sexual assault on a child and 11 other counts of abuse by the Riverside County District Attorney's office, who also announced a $5 million warrant for her arrest. The former teacher and administrator was collared in Perris, on Monday evening, which is roughly 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles, around 5:45 p.m. Monday. Cardosa is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.
Cardosa, formerly a teacher and school administrator in Riverside County, is accused of sexually abusing a former student from 1997 to 2001 before abusing a second high school student in 2009 or 2010, according to the district attorney's office.
The shocking case against Cardosa first came to light after a now 28-year-old Jamie Carrillo posted a video on YouTube showing her making a call to confront Cardosa about the abuse allegations that she said began when she was 12. Carrillo said that she chose to publicly reveal the alleged crimes against Cardosa the way she did because she believed that a statute of limitations — with the abuse allegedly taking place more than 13 years ago — would prevent the former educator from being criminally charged.
However, according to the district's Senior Public Information Specialist John Hall, because the five counts of aggravated sexual assault on a child carry potential life sentences, a statute of limitations does not apply. Hall also said that the allegations by the second younger victim, who came forward just after Carrillo, would have been within the legal time frame. Hall declined to say what evidence may be brought against Cardosa. He told media sources that what they have is "based on the evidence that we were given from the Riverside Police Department."
"We've only charged her with two victims but as with any time you have a case like these there's always a potential that there may be more victims out there," he said. In addition to Cardosa's charges of aggravated sexual assault on a child under the age of 14, she faces five counts of lewd acts on a child under the age of 14, and six counts of lewd acts on a child 14 or 15 years of age while the defendant is at least 10 years older than the victim. At this time, Hall said, they don't know of any other victims that may be out there, but they are imploring any others to come forward.
Cardosa's lawyer said he couldn't immediately comment as he had not yet been advised by prosecutors of the charges.
Posted: 03/07/2013 01:27:25 PM PST - Updated: 03/07/2013 01:27:49 PM PST
Vallejo, CA -- A Solano County Superior Court jury on Thursday convicted a former Vallejo special-education teacher, Jerry Johnson, 57 (pictured left) of Elk Grove, of raping and impregnating his severely developmentally disabled student aide in 2011. Prosecutors said the victim, who is now 20, has the intellect of a 7-year-old.
According to testimony, she had been enrolled in Vallejo City Unified School District special education classes from kindergarten through high school. Following her successful matriculation from a district high school in 2010, she enrolled in a transitional program where she received specialized instruction and worked as a student aide at Loma Vista Elementary School. During the 2010-2011 school year, she worked under the care of Johnson, who taught developmentally disabled preschool- and kindergarten-aged "special needs" children. At some point, prosecutors said Johnson became romantically involved with the victim, and had unprotected sexual intercourse with her. This resulted in her conceiving and giving birth to his child, who is now about 14 months old.
The victim's mother testified that she - much to her horror - discovered her daughter's pregnancy in spring 2011. After a doctor confirmed the pregnancy, the mother reported the incident to the school district and police. Johnson was arrested in June of 2011. Johnson was placed on administrative leave following his arrest. District officials said Johnson cleared a criminal background check when he was hired in 2009.
The Solano County Deputy Public Defender, who defended Johnson, argued that the sexual relationship, while distasteful, was legal. He contended that the victim had voluntarily consented to a dating relationship that resulted in pregnancy. The defense also raised questions about whether the charges had been motivated by the family's pending lawsuit against the Vallejo school district.
Solano County Prosecutor Andrew Ganz, however, argued that Johnson, a credentialed teacher who had extensive experience working with special-needs children, should have known that the victim was incapable of consenting to such sexual acts. "She can't do simple arithmetic ... she can't read," Ganz said in his closing arguments Tuesday. "This is the person the defense wants you to believe was capable of giving consent." DNA evidence presented at trial concluded that Johnson was the likely father. Neither side called expert witnesses to testify as to the victim's disability. However, prosecutors put her on the stand last week to demonstrate her mental capacity.
Following about a day of deliberations after a four-day trial, the jurors found Johnson guilty of one count of rape of a person incapable of consenting due to mental and developmental disabilities. The 8-man, 4-woman jury also convicted Johnson of the enhancement of inflicting great bodily injury on the victim. Johnson, who had been free on bail since last March, was remanded pending his sentencing hearing. He faces up to 11 years at his sentencing, scheduled for April 29, 2013.
Posted: Tuesday Feb 19, 2013 4:48 PM PT - Tuesday Feb 19, 2013 5:20 PM PT
Hayward, CA -- A woman who was sent to prison for having sex with two underage boys in Livermore, including one who was dating her teenage daughter, was caught with pornography five days after her release and jailed for allegedly violating her parole, authorities said Tuesday. Christine Shreeve Hubbs, 44 (pictured left) who was released from prison Feb. 10, was arrested late Friday during a surprise compliance visit by state parole agents to her Hayward home, said parole spokesman Fred Bridgewater. She is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
Bridgewater said that there was no indication the pornography involved children but that Hubbs is not allowed to possess any pornography under the conditions of her parole. If the state pursues sanctions, she has a right to a parole hearing within 10 days.
She was sentenced to a five-year prison term and required to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life after pleading no contest in 2011 to one count of unlawful sex with a minor and three counts of lewd acts with a child. Police said Hubbs had improper contact with the boys from 2008 to 2010, when they were as young as 14. On several occasions, investigators said, she drove them in her Hummer to locations in Livermore to engage in sex acts. Hubbs first made an advance to one of the boys when he was dating her daughter, authorities said. She was accused of giving that boy cash, expensive gifts and cell phones to maintain contact with her. Police said they learned of the crimes when a mother of one of the boys reported finding a nude photo of Hubbs on his phone.
In exchange for Hubbs’ no-contest plea, prosecutors dropped 63 other felony sex counts and several misdemeanor counts related to an incident in which she allegedly bought pellet and water guns for several boys and drove them around as they fired at bystanders from the Hummer.
After Hubbs was arrested Friday, her two children and their friends allegedly used Facebook and Twitter to harass and threaten Hubbs’ original victims in Livermore, perhaps under the mistaken belief that they had provided information that led to the arrest, authorities said. One of the boys, who is now 17, reported the social-media messages and said he was scared. That prompted Livermore police to assign two detectives to find out who was involved and whether the messages constituted criminal threats or cyberbullying, said Officer Steve Goard, a department spokesman. He said Livermore school officials had been notified of the investigation and were working with police. No one has been charged in connection with the alleged harassment. “We thought 2½ years ago that this was done,” Goard said. “What we’re puzzled most about is how her arrest suddenly made the two boys a target. … We’re curious if this was initiated by Christine. Did she call and tell her family, ‘Hey, this is all the boys’ fault, they should pay’?”
Hubbs’ family has moved out of Alameda County, but Hubbs — who as a parolee sex offender has to wear a GPS ankle monitor — must remain in the county unless given special permission, authorities said. She is also barred from returning to Livermore.
Posted: 11/28/2012 07:53:48 PM PST - Updated: 11/29/2012 06:59:21 PM PST
SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- A state appeals court has upheld a former Moraga middle school teacher Julie Gay Correa's conviction for sexually abusing a teenage girl in the 1990s, a case that has led to revelations of past mandated reporting failures in the Moraga School District, a lawsuit and multiple legal claims.
The First Appellate District in San Francisco found no errors were made when former Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School teacher Correa (pictured above, center) was prosecuted for sexually abusing Kristen Cunnane over a four-year period beginning in 1996, when Cunnane was 14. Cunnane, now a 30-year-old Walnut Creek resident and an assistant swim coach at UC Berkeley, chose to be publicly identified as Correa's victim after she first reported the abuse in 2010.
Correa, 44, was pending trial on 28 felony charges last year when she pleaded no contest to three counts of lewd acts on a child and one count of forcible sexual penetration in exchange for an eight-year prison sentence.
Correa waived her right to appeal the conviction as part of her plea deal with the state Attorney General's Office. She lodged an appeal anyway, arguing her attorney had advised her to waive her rights without discussing the pros and cons of doing so with her.
Correa believes her sentence was affected by the fact Cunnane's husband is a Contra Costa County prosecutor, and she wished she would have made other legal challenges before changing her plea, according to the opinion handed down by the state court.
This newspaper's investigation into the Correa case revealed in May that Correa was among the state mandated reporters at Joaquin Moraga in the 1990s who failed to act when Cunnane and other female students reported being molested or otherwise sexually harassed at the school by science teacher Daniel Witters.
Witters is suspected to have molested the girls after a high school student reported in 1994 that she had been sexually molested by Witters when she was an eighth-grader. Cunnane is suing the district for unspecified damages for failing to act on the student's initial complaint, arguing that administrators could have saved her and others from being victimized.
Three other victims of Witters have filed claims against the district -- one is asking for $10 million, and the other two are asking for $15 million each.
Gay Lipstick Predator!
MARTINEZ, CA (WCJB) — Declaring her a sex offender who had “created an inappropriate environment not only for the victim, but for many middle school girls,” Judge Clare Maier sentenced a former Moraga middle school teacher and coach to eight years in state prison Wednesday. Julie Gay Correa (pictured below, right) 43, pleaded no contest in October to one felony count of sexual penetration under duress and three felony counts of sexually abusing a child aged 14 or 15 years old, prosecutor Geoffrey Lauter said. Maier also ordered the former teacher and coach to pay nearly $8,000 in restitution to the victim, now 29-year-old Kristen Cunnane of Walnut Creek. Cunnane has chosen to be identified. Correa, a Utah resident and mother of two young boys, is also required to register as a sex offender and will be placed on parole for up to ten years following her release from prison.
“It is the teacher’s responsibility… to protect and to shield students at all costs from any inappropriate connection,” Maier said before handing down the sentence. “Ms. Correa breached that promise.” Cunnane reported the abuse in 2010, about a decade after it ended, after she started having frequent flashbacks of the molestation and suffering from severe anxiety and depression, she said. “Saying something and asking for help is what I knew I had to do in order to heal,” she said today in a courtroom filled with her friends and family as well as Correa’s friends and family.
In an emotional statement Wednesday, the victim told the court how she first met Correa—a popular teacher and girls’ sports coach—as an 11-year-old on her first day of sixth grade. “I would come to respect her…more than any other adult,” she recalled. “I wanted to be just like her,” Cunnane said. During her time at the school, Cunnane said Correa manipulated her admiration for the teacher twice her age. The two spent more and more time together outside class, whether during lunchtime chats or one-on-one Slurpee runs, Cunnane said. “She acted more like a peer than a teacher,” she recalled. When she graduated middle school, Correa gave Cunnane a card and a watch, she said.
At 14, the teacher she trusted kissed her for the first time, leading to a four-year pattern of abuse that divided Cunnane’s identity as both “an accomplished Moraga teen and a terrified sex slave”, and has since caused her to suffer from depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she said. Correa repeatedly raped her former student, at her Walnut Creek apartment, in her car, and at Cunnane’s home, where she would sometimes hide in the teen’s bedroom closet or under her bed, waiting for her parents to fall asleep. Cunnane said Correa threatened to harm herself if she ever left her and told the teen that she would lose her friends if they thought she was a lesbian. Shortly before turning 18, Cunnane began avoiding Correa’s calls and threatened to report the abuse if the teacher continued to pursue her. Though she said Correa did contact her after she enrolled at UCLA, the two didn’t speak again until 2010, when detectives said Cunnane would need to call her former teacher to build more evidence for a sexual assault case, she said. During those calls and later, in court, Correa admitted to the abuse, referring to her “past connection” with Cunnane.
On Monday, Correa made a tearful statement to the court. “It was never, never my intention to hurt you – I cared deeply for you,” Correa said, addressing Cunnane. “At some point, I began to view you as a peer instead of the teenage girl you were…this was an error in my thinking.” On Wednesday, a bailiff led Correa – wearing a dark green jumpsuit – away in handcuffs before remanding her to police custody.
See: •» Corrupt Justice™ (Apr 4, 2010): Schoolyard Predators! - Part IV - 2010
Posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 03:15:16 PM PST WHITE PLAINS, NY – A 49-year-old married father from Fishkill Tuesday pled guilty in Westchester County Court to attempted rape in the first degree, a felony, for trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a 10-year-old virgin. Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said Robert Viggiano (pictured left) an electrical contractor, told a prostitute that he wanted to have sex with a 10-year-old virgin, asking whether or not she could arrange it.
The prostitute reported the request to Yonkers Police, who along with the Westchester DA’s office began an undercover investigation. Over a period of a few weeks, Viggiano had several conversations with an undercover police officer posing as the mother of the 10-year-old-girl regarding arrangements and the price. They agreed on the transaction occurring at her apartment for $400 and to bring candy for the victim. On February 8, 2011, Viggiano was arrested by Yonkers Police when he arrived at the location with $400 in his pocket along with Starburst candy and a lollipop, thinking he was going to have sex with the girl.
Viggiano was remanded to the Westchester County Jail pending sentencing in March when he faces up to 15 years in state prison and up to 15 years of parole as well as a requirement to register as a sex offender.
Schoolyard Predators! Part XI - 2012
Posted: February 25, 2012 - Updated: Sunday, February 25, 2012 - 11:20 AM PST
Los Angeles, CA -- The Los Angeles County district attorney's office chose not to seek the extradition of a substitute teacher wanted for sex crimes, even after prosecutors learned of his whereabouts in Mexico, court records show. The records contradict statements made this week by a deputy district attorney, who said the teacher would be extradited as soon as authorities could locate him. The teacher, George Hernandez (pictured left) was arrested by Huntington Park police in September 2010 for allegedly exposing himself to a girl outside a middle school.
Detectives who searched his Inglewood apartment discovered a videotape they say shows Hernandez molesting a second-grader in a classroom. He was released on bail and fled the country. An investigator working for a bail bonds company found Hernandez early last year, and Jalisco, Mexico, state police briefly detained him on Jan. 19, 2011. In a letter faxed nine days later, the company informed the district attorney that it was continuing to track Hernandez and could help apprehend him. But on March 15, Deputy Dist. Atty. Ann Huntsman responded saying prosecutors did not want to bring him back to Los Angeles. "We have evaluated the case and have determined that we will not seek the defendant's international extradition from Mexico on this case at this time," Huntsman wrote.
"The case will remain open and the defendant is still subject to prosecution in this case." Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, said the decision came after consultation with U.S. Justice Department officials, who said success was far from guaranteed. Prosecutors also considered the fact that Hernandez, now 45, had no criminal record and that the charges they had filed against him — possession of child pornography and indecent exposure — fell short of child molestation, Gibbons said.
The revelation comes in a case that has focused attention on how schools can fail to weed out dangerous teachers. Before his arrest, Hernandez had been investigated three times at three L.A. Unified School District elementary schools for alleged sexual misconduct. He was never charged and apparently never reported to the state commission on teacher credentialing.
Huntington Park police, who investigated the case, said they showed prosecutors several videos they found in Hernandez's apartment. Some had been downloaded from the Internet. Others appeared to be homemade, including a 14-minute video in which Hernandez appears alone with a girl detectives said they eventually identified as a 7-year-old student. Detectives determined that the video was made in 2008 in a classroom at Beulah Payne Elementary, in the Inglewood Unified School District, while Hernandez was filling in for a teacher on leave. According to their investigative report, he repeatedly reached under the girl's clothes and placed her across his lap, as she tried to resist.
Gibbons said prosecutors determined the strongest charge the evidence could support was felony possession of child pornography. The charge was based only on a video taken from the Internet, she said. Prosecutors were never shown the evidence related to the video of the child in the classroom, Gibbons said. "We presented what we had and they didn't feel that was enough for more serious charges," Huntington Park Lt. Anthony Porter said Friday.
Inglewood schools hired Hernandez in 2007 after he had left L.A. Unified under a cloud of suspicion. His 2010 arrest — and his flight soon after — received little public attention at the time. But if Hernandez remained a fugitive, Aladdin Bail Bonds stood to lose his $30,000 bail. The company hired a Mexican investigator, Antonio Oswaldo Ramirez Perez; and in January 2011, he went to San Miguel el Alto, where Hernandez had spent his early childhood before moving to the United States. It wasn't hard to find him. "It's a very small town," Ramirez said by phone this week. "He was well known." Hernandez drove a red Ford pickup with Jalisco license plates. He was living in the center of town in a small house that Ramirez thought belonged to Hernandez's relatives and he didn't have a job.
With help from the Jalisco state police, Ramirez photographed Hernandez holding a Mexican newspaper, collected his fingerprints and copied down his driver's license number. The information was included in the bail company's Jan. 28, 2011, letter to the L.A. County district attorney. "Aladdin's investigators remain aware of the defendant's whereabouts and can assist in the apprehension of the defendant if Los Angeles County law enforcement authorities wish to commence extradition efforts of the defendant in this case," it said. It was filed in court, along with the response from the district attorney. Under California law, a bail company can keep its money if it locates a fugitive abroad and provides the information to prosecutors. On April 5, a judge ruled that Aladdin was off the hook.
After media sources published an article about Hernandez's case this week, L.A. County Deputy Dist. Atty. Diana Martinez said he would be extradited as soon as his exact location could be determined. There has been no such effort "because that requires we know where he is," she said in an interview Wednesday. Gibbons said Martinez was not aware Hernandez had been located or of the discussions about his possible extradition. The case remains open, she added. Meanwhile, Hernandez's family has been begging him to return, according to a relative, who said, "All of his actions have shown what a coward he is, and I doubt he will come back."
Posted: Feb 3, 2012 - Updated: 06/25/12 12:56 AM PT
A gymnastics coach is facing charges that he had sex with one of his young students.
PUBLISHED: Friday, February 03, 2012 - MODIFIED: Monday, February 06, 2012 03:02 PM PST
LAUSD: Another One!
Mark Berndt, 61 (right) faces 23 counts of lewd conduct for allegedly feeding his semen to blindfolded children in "tasting games." Martin Bernard Springer, 49 (left) is suspected of fondling two children in his second-grade class in the last three years.
Los Angeles, CA -- Authorities acknowledged that 18 years ago a 10-year-old girl claimed that Mark Berndt, 61, tried to fondle her. Prosecutors declined to file to charges against Berndt in the 1993 report, saying they didn't have enough evidence. Berndt denied the allegation at the time. The details of that case and other claims by two former students about strange behavior by Berndt surfaced just three days after his arrest. Earlier, two women who said they were former students of Berndt told the media sources that complaints were made about his odd behavior as far back as 1990. The most recent allegations also raised further questions as to why he wasn't disciplined by school officials, who have been lambasted by some parents for waiting a year to reveal Berndt was suspected of taking bondage-style photographs of children in his class. Only parents of children identified as victims were told by authorities about the most recent investigation.
School officials and investigators said proper procedures were followed to investigate and build a case against the teacher. Sandi Gibbons, a district attorney spokeswoman, said in a statement the case was rejected because there was insufficient evidence to prove a crime had occurred. The incident involving the 10-year-old girl occurred in September 1993 but wasn't reported by her mother to officials at Miramonte until the following January, after her daughter had seen an "Oprah" show about inappropriate touching, sheriff's Sgt. Dan Scott said Thursday. The girl claimed Berndt reached toward her genitals during class and she pushed his hand away, Scott said. School officials notified the Sheriff's Department, which submitted evidence to prosecutors. They opted not to file a charge of committing a lewd act on a minor under the age of 14. Berndt was never arrested. "Based on what I read, it was a thorough and complete investigation," said Scott, who noted the investigator who handled the case has retired.
Using a cheap camera, Berndt is suspected of snapping nearly 400 photographs of Miramonte students, some with a giant Madagascar cockroach from a classroom terrarium on their faces. Others were blindfolded or had clear tape over their mouths, and some were given sperm-laced cookies to eat as treats in the photo sessions that were treated like games, Scott said.
Some of Berndt's students defended him, saying he was a kind and generous teacher. Angelica Zuniga, a 16-year-old high school junior, was in third grade in 2003 when she had Berndt as a teacher. She said he never asked her or others to do anything strange or to play any inappropriate games. "They're calling him `monster.' He's just not that kind of person," Angelica said. "He was one of the most amazing teachers out there. He's dedicated his life to us, and I want to stick up for him." The latest investigation of Berndt began last fall when a film processor became suspicious about the photographs and turned them over to Redondo Beach police, who on Dec. 2 handed them over to the sheriff's department, Scott said. Berndt, who taught at Miramonte for more than 30 years ago, was removed from classwork in January and fired within the month.
The case also prompted Deasy to fire a high school teacher who is being sued over allegations he had sex with students. The media reported Friday that Vance Miller, 59, was pulled from his Hamilton High School classroom in 2010, before Deasy became superintendent. A police investigation didn't result in criminal charges. But two former students, now adults, said the music teacher had sex with them while they were students at Hamilton. Deasy reviewed the case this week and decided there was enough information to fire Miller, who has been paid since his removal.
PUBLISHED: Friday, February 03, 2012 - MODIFIED: Monday, February 06, 2012 03:02 PM PST
Aldo Scamardella, a former Hamilton High student, said Friday that he once showered naked with the music teacher who is being sued for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old boy. However, Scamardella, 21, believes his former teacher, Vance Miller (pictured left) did nothing wrong. Miller, the 2010 Southern California Outstanding Music Educator of the Year, was a Hamilton music magnet teacher for 17 years. Recently he was accused of sexually abusing at least four students in the mid-1990s through 2010.
Scamardella played violin in the orchestra from 2005 to 2009 and spent many occasions alone with Miller after class and at the teacher's home, even going to the gym and showering naked with him once. He said the incidents were never sexual and the teacher was "fatherly" to him. "It was a complete shock to me, because he was just a very caring teacher. I didn't really believe it," Scamardella said. Scamardella learned about allegations against Miller nearly a year ago when Los Angeles Police Department detectives were interviewing students and faculty on campus during the spring of 2011.
Miller, 59, taught for more than 35 years in the LAUSD school system. He was removed from the classroom by the district in September 2010, the same year he won the music educator of the year award. No explanations were given to parents and students, and rumors ran rampant. Miller is scheduled to go to the board for dismissal proceedings on Feb. 7, said LAUSD spokesman Tom Waldman.
Scamardella said Friday he was upset by the details of the allegations against Miller, but believes Miller is innocent. The two met when Scamardella was in eight grade and Miller was a conductor for the L.A. Unified Middle School Honors orchestra. "From the very beginning he was always just very kind, caring," Scamardella said. "And honestly, I probably, I can understand maybe why people might take some of his mannerisms in a wrong way. I mean, I'm not going to lie, he would hug us, and give us a kiss on the cheek. And I'm sure that's strange, because you're not used to teachers doing that. You're not used to building that kind of relationship, so to say, with a teacher, they're sort of becoming a friend...but after a while it was 'whatever' to me."
A lawsuit against Miller and the district states that the teacher regularly kissed other students on the lips in class, rubbed up against them, took students individually with him to a local gym and showered naked with them. Scamardella said Miller was more friendly with male students than females. Scamardella said he would hang out at Miller's home and help select songs for the orchestra or go to the library with him to pick up music. When he was 17-year-old high school junior he went to the gym with Miller and a couple other students once and showered naked with the teacher and classmates after a swim. "I'll go to the gym on my own, and there's a bunch of naked guys around me," Scamardella said. "Yes, it was a bit uncomfortable, in a sense, because it was two of my classmates and my teacher."
Scamardella said he has met with Miller twice since the allegations surfaced, most recently a couple months ago and prior to that had lunch with the teacher in March or April. Miller asked Scamardella if he had heard anything about him from other students. Scamardella said he knew Miller wasn't teaching at Hamilton any more. "That's when he told me that it was something we'll discuss when I was older," Scamardella said. "He told me there were some allegations made toward him, but didn't specify what type of allegations those where, and [he said] that there were investigations, that basically he was asked to leave the school." Miller seemed sad and said his wife and son were being supportive, Scamardella explained. "I told him, 'I have your back. I support you. And if you need anything I'm here as a friend,'" Scamardella said.
Miller has helped Scamardella and other former students gain professional performance experience. Scamardella got a job playing violin in two episodes of "Glee" because of Miller. "He would always strive to give us the best opportunitites in what we did," Scamardella said. "...I can honestly tell you that nothing ever happened," Scamardella said. "He had the moments if he wanted to...but never once did he lay a finger on me. In a way, I almost saw it as just a fatherly type of manner. The way he treated me. I don't think it was any different than the way he would treat a son."
PUBLISHED TUES., JAN 31, 2012 01:25 PM PST - MODIFIED: TUES., JAN 31, 2012 09:02 AM PST
Mark Berndt, 61 (pictured left) a Miramonte Elementary School teacher who taught for three decades in South L.A., told his elementary school students they would be playing "a game" before tying them up and feeding them from a spoon possibly containing semen, sources said. Berndt, who is charged with lewd acts on 23 children and was taken into custody Monday, told the children the spoon contained something sugary and sweet, but authorities said they believed the substance was his semen, said the sources, who declined to comment on the record because the investigation is ongoing.
A spoon recovered from a trash bin in Berndt's classroom is a key piece of evidence, said Capt. Mike Parker of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "Early in the investigation, special victims bureau detectives recovered a blue plastic spoon and an empty container from the trash within the suspect’s classroom," Parker said. "The recovered items tested positive for semen." Through further investigation, the suspect’s DNA was obtained and tested, and officials said it matched that of the DNA found on the spoon and container. The 23 alleged victims are both boys and girls and ranged in age from 7 to 10. The crimes occurred between 2008 and 2010, Parker said. Some girls were allegedly photographed with a blue spoon holding a white substance near their mouths, Parker said.
Berndt's arrest capped a nearly yearlong investigation by the L.A. County sheriff's special victims unit. Berndt was fired in March and was being held Tuesday on $2.3-million bail. The investigation began when a photo processor turned over to authorities, pictured of some alleged acts of bondage and the spoon-feeding, officials said. Investigators recovered photos from the processor and Berndt's home that allegedly showed the students bound and blindfolded and some with large Madagascar cockroaches crawling on them inside the school setting, Parker said. Parker also said that, so far, 10 children in the photos recovered have not been identified. More than 80 children and staff have been in interviewed. Miramonte Elementary is in the Florence Firestone unincorporated area of Los Angeles County and is within the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Posted: 5:45 PM EST, Wed February 5, 2014 - Updated: 9:15 PM PST, Thurs. Feb. 13, 2014
Mark Berndt, 61 (right) faces 23 counts of lewd conduct for allegedly feeding his semen to blindfolded children in "tasting games." Martin Bernard Springer, 49 (left) is suspected of fondling two children in his second-grade class in the last three years.
Los Angeles, CA -- Charges were dismissed against one of two former teachers accused of lewd conduct in a high-profile student abuse case in a Los Angeles school because an alleged victim won't testify, authorities said Wednesday.
Martin Bernard Springer, 51, had been facing three felony counts of a lewd act on a girl under age 14 and three misdemeanor counts of child molesting against a girl under age 18. The incidents allegedly occurred against one victim at Miramonte Elementary School between April 2009 and June 2009.
Those six charges were dismissed Wednesday by Los Angeles County Judge Charlaine Olmedo, officials said.
"The prosecution announced today that we are unable to proceed because the victim does not want to testify," Shiara Davila-Morales, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney, said Wednesday.
"The victim, who is now 12, was very traumatized with the experience of testifying in court during the preliminary hearing. Because her testimony is essential to the case, the DA's Office cannot proceed without her testimony. The case can be refiled, however, should the victim change her mind within the statute of limitations," Davila-Morales said.
The alleged abuse of students at Miramonte Elementary drew widespread attention because another former teacher, Mark Berndt, was arrested and accused of taking bondage photos of more than two dozen students in his classroom, including some with suspected semen-filled spoons at their mouths.
Berndt pleaded no contest to felony lewd acts on 23 children and was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison. His case led to almost 200 students suing Los Angeles Unified School District, claiming that they, too, were victims, and the district reached a $30 million settlement with 63 of 190 students' claims alleging they were victims of sexually lewd acts by Berndt. The remaining claims are pending.
Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - Updated: Monday, February 6, 2012 12:47:06 PM PST
LOS ANGELES, CA -- The superintendent of schools is meeting with worried parents and classes are canceled for two days at a Southern California elementary school where two teachers are suspected of lewd acts with young students, officials said. Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy will hold the meeting at 6 p.m. Monday at a high school near Miramonte Elementary, the school that has brought national attention to the country's second-largest school district, with allegations of teachers engaging in sexual misconduct with students as young as six. School officials have canceled classes at the school on Tuesday and Wednesday, district spokeswoman Monica Carazo said. The closure is related to the investigation and aftermath of the arrested teachers, but Carazo was not certain what would be happening on campus, or whether faculty and staff would be there.
Last week teacher Mark Berndt, 61, who worked at the school for 32 years, was charged with committing lewd acts on 23 children, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010. The acts cited include blindfolding children and feeding them his own semen in his classroom in what children were allegedly told was a "tasting game." Berndt remains jailed on $23 million bail and could face life in prison if convicted.
LAPD "foxes guarding the henhouse." Four days later another teacher, Martin Springer, 49, was arrested on suspicion of fondling two girls in his classroom. He was being held on $2 million bail. Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy confirmed that the second teacher was removed after accusations of inappropriate touching of students surfaced on Thursday. "We are prepared to fire him next week and we'll do that at the next board meeting for inappropriate conduct and inappropriately touching students," the superintendent told media sources. Deasy said the district has seen an increase in the number of complaints of teacher molestation since news of Berndt's arrest broke, but he provided no figures.
Child-abuse investigators were informed by the district late Thursday night, sheriff's Lt. Carlos Marquez said. Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker said Springer of Alhambra was arrested based on information that came forward after the first arrest was announced, but there was no known connection between the two cases. Parker said the victims in the second case were about 7 years old and allegedly were fondled in a classroom.
The development involving the second teacher was made public a day after authorities acknowledged that 18 years ago a 10-year-old girl claimed Berndt tried to fondle her. In a related development, a lawyer on Friday filed a claim against the Los Angeles Unified School District stating that he intended to file a lawsuit on behalf of an unidentified girl who ate a sugar cookie laced with the semen of the first teacher arrested, Mark Berndt.
Posted: 01/20/2012 05:07:02 PM PST - Updated: 01/24/2012 04:36:06 PM PST
MARTINEZ, CA -- A former teacher at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette was sentenced Friday to five years and eight months in prison for molesting a female student on campus in 2010. Michael Merrick, a 48-year-old Lafayette resident, had been scheduled to go to trial Monday on 25 felony charges but instead chose to take a plea deal and pleaded guilty to six felony counts of sex crimes against a minor. He is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Had Merrick gone to trial, the victim would have testified in a courtroom closed to the public. Deputy district attorney Johanna Schonfield convinced a judge to close portions of the trial related to the victim's identity in response to a high level of community interest and an online news report that she said compromised the girl's anonymity.
Schonfield required Merrick to admit wrongdoing as part of the plea deal. Speaking in a low tone from inside a courtroom cell, Merrick admitted that he molested the girl on campus and apologized to her, her family, his family, his students and the rest of the Stanley Middle School community. "I betrayed a position of trust," Merrick said. "I was the adult and solely responsible for what occurred."
Merrick (pictured right) was a popular teacher at the Lafayette school when he was arrested in October 2010 on suspicion of molesting a 14-year-old girl that summer. The crimes occurred in his classroom during private tutoring sessions paid for by the victim's parents. Among the evidence collected by police were semen from his classroom couch and hundreds of inappropriate text messages that Merrick sent to the victim. "To the extent that the criminal justice system can address and remedy that wrong that's been done to this young person, the family is satisfied," an attorney said on behalf of the victim's family, who did not attend the sentencing. "But there's no amount of time nor sanction that can be levied by the court that would remedy the wrong that has been done."
See: •» Schoolyard Predators! - Part I
Posted: 11:20 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 - Updated: 10:20 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012
Sexual Encounters of a Historical Nature!
Tulsa, Okla. -- A history teacher at Central High School in Tulsa has been arrested for the 2nd-degree rape of a student. Tulsa Police Officer Jason Willingham says 41-year-old Maurice Parker (pictured above, center) is a history teacher. He was arrested for second degree rape on Wednesday. Willingham says, “Second degree rape is defined by anybody in a position of authority that uses authority possibly to further that relationship.” Investigators say Parker had three sexual encounters with an 18-year-old student. “He was not arrested at the school. He was actually located actually in the 9500 block of South Riverside Parkway.” Parker is out on a $25,000 bond.
Posted: 02/23/2012 11:43:09 AM PST Updated: 02/23/2012 06:22:16 PM PST
Peter ... !
Union City, CA -- A former James Logan High School teacher charged with having sex with a 16-year-old student is now scheduled to enter a plea next month. The plea hearing for Peter Kolesnikov, 38 (pictured left) was moved to March 29 so that Kolsenikov’s attorney could review new discovery obtained by Deputy District Attorney Jimmie Wilson. Kolsenikov appeared in court Thursday morning at the Fremont Hall of Justice. He was out of custody after posting a $500,000 bail on Jan. 26. He was originally held on a $1 million bail but was granted a reduction on conditions that he surrender his passport and not have unsupervised communications with minors. Wilson disagreed with the bail amount, asserting that Kolesnikov is “a danger to the community.”
Kolesnikov was arrested Jan. 12 and faces 22 counts of sexual assault, including charges of statutory rape, oral copulation of a minor and communicating with a minor with criminal intent, according to court records. He also faces one charge of possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Kolesnikov was arrested by Union City police after authorities received information that he had engaged in sexual relations with a 16-year-old girl over a nine-month period from March to November of last year. He was on his way to meet with the juvenile victim at an undisclosed location in Hayward during the time of his arrest, police said. The victim, now 17, told police the relationship began with kissing and grew into sexual encounters in private homes and motels in Alameda County. Authorities believe there may be additional victims. A clerk at a hotel Kolesnikov frequented said that Kolesnikov has been seen with various girls, in addition to the victim, according to Wilson.
According to co-workers and district staff, Kolesnikov taught English and some art classes at James Logan High School for 12 years until he took leave at the end of the 2010-11 school year. He was well-liked among both students and staff, said co-workers and several former students who attended Kolesnikov’s previous court appearances, though some online reviews were mixed, with posters calling him "brilliant" but "lacking in enthusiasm" for teaching. The district would not comment on the nature of his leave but police said it was unrelated to criminal charges.
Posted: 01/18/2012 05:49:09 AM PST Updated: 01/18/2012 04:44:16 PM PST
FREMONT, CA -- A James Logan High School teacher was arraigned Tuesday on 21 felony charges in connection with a sexual relationship police said he had with a 16-year-old student. Peter Kolesnikov, 38, is accused of 12 counts of statutory rape and nine counts of oral copulation of a minor, and additional charges may be pending, police Cmdr. Ben Horner said. Kolesnikov, being held on $1 million bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, is scheduled Thursday to enter a plea to those charges at the Fremont Hall of Justice. In addition, Superior Court Judge Richard Keller is expected to rule on a motion filed by his defense attorney to reduce his bail. It was Kolesnikov's first court appearance since he was arrested Thursday in Hayward, where police said he was en route to meet with the Union City girl, now 17.
Art Teacher Peter Kolesnikov receives his meal at the James Logan Puente lunch.
Outside the courtroom, work colleagues praised Kolesnikov for being dedicated to teaching. "He was devoted to his students academically, personally and emotionally," said a co-worker who declined to give her name. "He's a very popular, well-liked teacher, and I've never seen him do anything inappropriate."
Police investigators paint a different picture. Between last March and November, Kolesnikov and the student -- who is not being named -- had a relationship that began with kissing and eventually led to numerous sexual encounters in private residences and motels in Alameda County, Horner said. New Haven Unified School District officials learned of the relationship Jan. 10 and immediately asked Union City police to conduct an investigation, district spokesman Rick La Plante said. Kolesnikov has been on leave since the start of the school year on a matter unrelated to the arrest and has not worked in the school district since June, La Plante said.
Investigators also served a search warrant on Kolesnikov's residences in San Francisco and Berkeley, Horner said. Police believe there may be additional victims, and parents are encouraged to speak to their children about the arrest. "Based on my request to the public, we have received a number of phone calls," Horner said. "We're still in the process of identifying possible additional victims, if there are any."
Posted: Saturday, January 14, 2012 - Updated: 11:58 AM PST, Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Union City, CA -- A Union City high school teacher has been arrested for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student, the latest Bay Area educator to face sexual misconduct allegations. Peter Kolesnikov (pictured left) a 38-year-old art teacher at James Logan High School, had a relationship with the student from March to November, said Union City police Cmdr. Ben Horner. "The relationship began with kissing, then eventually led to sexual encounters in private residences and motels in Alameda County," Horner said Friday. Kolesnikov was arrested Thursday as he was on his way to meet with the girl, who is now 17. He is being held at Santa Rita Jail on suspicion of statutory rape, oral copulation of a minor and communicating with a minor with criminal intent. His bail was set at $1 million. » On Wednesday, Livermore police arrested Granada High School math teacher Marie Johnson, 40, for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old male student. » On Tuesday, San Jose police arrested Craig Chandler, 35, of San Jose on suspicion of sexually assaulting a student at O.B. Whaley Elementary School, where he teaches a combined second- and third-grade class.
Posted: 04/18/2013 01:52:19 PM PDT - Updated: 04/18/2013 02:03:57 PM PDT
Hayward, CA -- A Livermore teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy pleaded no contest Tuesday to nine counts of having sex with the former student, according to the Alameda County District Attorney said.
Marie Johnson, 42, a former math teacher at Granada High School, entered the plea to an amended complaint at the Hayward Hall of Justice after previously pleading not guilty to the charges a month after her January 2012 arrest.
The amended complaint condenses the original 24 charges into 9. The charges include incidents of sexual intercourse, sex acts in a car and at Granada High School, and a charge of lewd and lascivious conduct for licking the boy's neck after a basketball game.
According to police, the relationship began through the popular smartphone app "Words with Friends," text messages and social media. The alleged abuse occurred from December 2010 to May 2011, according to court records.
Johnson has remained in jail since her arrest, with bail set at $950,000. She will be sentenced May 15 at the Hayward Hall of Justice.
July 10, 2012
Livermore, CA -- Livermore residents, Marie Johnson and Gavin McFate, charged in separate cases involving sex with minors, had their court appearances delayed until August because of scheduling conflicts. Johnson, 41, is charged with having sex with a boy younger than 15 while she was a math teacher at Granada High School. Johnson was arrested Jan. 11 and charged with 24 sex offenses stemming from a relationship with the boy that lasted from December 2010 until May 2011, according to court records. She is due back in court Aug. 2. McFate, 25, is charged with 41 counts, ranging from sex with a minor to providing drugs to a minor, stemming from a relationship with a teenage girl, according to court records. McFate was arrested Nov. 6; the next day, McFate attempted suicide by jumping off an interior roof at Santa Rita Jail. The fall left McFate a quadriplegic. He, too, is due back in court Aug. 2.
Fremont, CA -- A Granada High School teacher on Thursday pleaded not guilty to charges she had sex with a former student. Marie Johnson, 41, faces charges of unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under 18, oral copulation and committing a lewd act on a child, according to court records. Johnson was arrested on Jan. 11 on 24 counts of sexual assault on a 14-year-old boy, police said. Johnson is scheduled to return to court for a pre-trial hearing at 9 a.m. on April 6, in Department 704 of the Gale-Schenone Hall of Justice in Pleasanton. She is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of a $950,000 bail. Johnson's attorney declined to comment on the case Thursday. The prosecutor, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Venus Johnson, also declined to comment.
Posted: 01/13/2012 12:33:13 PM PST - Updated: 02/6/2012 02:27:31 PM PST
PLEASANTON, CA -- A Livermore high school teacher accused of having sex with one of her students was charged with 24 counts and had further arraignment delayed Friday at the request of her attorney. Marie Johnson, 41 (pictured above, center) a math teacher at Granada High School, was scheduled to be arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court in Pleasanton. The arraignment was rescheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Johnson was arrested Wednesday by Livermore police and charged Friday with 24 counts of sexual assault. She is accused of engaging in sexual relations with a boy under 15 from December 2010 to May 2011, police said. According to police, the relationship between Johnson and the student began through the popular smartphone app "Words with Friends" as well as text messages and Facebook. The complaint filed by the Alameda County District Attorney's office includes 10 counts of a lewd act upon a child, 10 counts of oral copulation of a person under 16 and four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse. Johnson's arrest comes on the heels of the sentencing of Livermore mom, Christine Shreeve Hubbs, who pleaded no contest in February 2011 to four felony counts and was sentenced to five years in state prison for having sex with two underage teen boys.
Posted: 07/10/2012 12:40:11 PM PDT - Updated: 07/10/2012 06:51:34 PM PDT
Da' Principal Knew!
San Jose, CA -- In an extraordinary move, prosecutors have charged a San Jose principal with failing to report to police an allegation that a teacher was sexually abusing a student in a classroom. The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office on Monday filed a misdemeanor charge against Lyn Vijayendran, the principal at O.B. Whaley Elementary School in San Jose. It is only the second time in two decades that an educator faces charges in the county for not reporting suspected abuse.
Prosecutors say a Whaley parent approached Vijayendran in October about concerns teacher Craig Chandler was behaving inappropriately with a student. Instead of contacting police, Vijayendran conducted her own investigation and even told Chandler that the child's parent had complained, prosecutor Alison Filo said. Vijayendran's attorney challenged prosecutors' characterization and said there were no suspicions that Chandler's behavior constituted abuse. "We are confident when all of the evidence is examined Ms. Vijayendran will be cleared of any wrongdoing," he said.
Three months after the parent's complaint, another parent reported suspected abuse by Chandler to a Whaley assistant principal and police. Chandler covered a student's eyes with a blindfold and "put things in her mouth," according to court documents. Chandler was arrested in January and eventually charged with five felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14, involving five alleged victims. A criminalist from the Santa Clara County crime lab said tests showed semen was found on chairs in Chandler's classroom, according to court files. The criminalist's conclusion is the semen was from Chandler. Chandler's case is headed to court Aug. 6. He maintains his innocence, his attorneys have said. Because Vijayendran did not alert police to the first alleged incident, "Not only was another child molested, but potential forensic evidence was lost," Filo said. "The defendant was given four months to create a defense." Evergreen administrators were not available to comment on the charges. The district issued a statement that it was cooperating with law enforcement.
Victims' advocates lauded prosecutors. "I am so thrilled that the DA filed charges," said Margaret Petros of the Child Abuse Council of Santa Clara County. In decades of working for children, she said, "I have not heard that happening." The council offers training for educators on child-abuse reporting requirements. "They should know," Petros said. "It's baffling that a principal could not conclude that this is child abuse."
California requires an array of professionals -- doctors, teachers, counselors -- to report suspicions of child abuse. But determining so-called mandated reporters' responsibilities is difficult. At schools, for instance, teachers must filter out rumors from facts. In other cases, the statute of limitations may run out. In 2009, police investigated Wilcox High Principal Tab Taber, in connection with special-education teacher Edward Slate's illicit affair with an underage student. Slate pled guilty to six felonies. But although people, including Slate, reported they had informed administrators at the Santa Clara school, prosecutors did not file charges against Taber.
In October, a parent reported information to Vijayendran that "we believe is specific conduct that would lead a reasonable person to believe that an act of child abuse had occurred," prosecutor Filo said. The girl's mother showed Vijayendran the jacket that the child was wearing at the time, which had a suspicious stain on it, Filo said, but Vijayendran reportedly decided it was not important. The mother washed the jacket. "In doing so it might have lost the best forensic evidence we might have had in this case," Filo said. "Maybe it would have exonerated the defendant. We'll never know."
"Mrs. Vijayendran has been cooperative and we do not believe that she intentionally turned her back on a child she knew was being abused," Filo said. But, she added, "It's our position a reasonable person would have known this abuse had occurred." An arrest warrant has been issued for Vijayendran and Filo expects the principal's defense attorney to arrange for her to surrender. In a statement, the principal's attorney said, "We are disappointed the District Attorney's Office has chosen to file a misdemeanor charge in this case. Ms. Vijayendran, the child's parents, and the school district, who were all aware of the teacher's conduct, had no way of knowing that the conduct was sexual in nature." When the second parent complained to the school, she said Assistant Principal Lea Peery's initial response was "Oh my God. Not again." Peery testified that she never used those words. She reported the complaint to district administrators, spoke to Chandler and notified Child Protective Services the same day. Separately, the parent called police. Chandler spent the remainder of the day in the classroom, according to court documents. He was arrested on Jan. 10.
Posted: Thurs. 4:30 p.m. CST, January 5, 2012 - Updated: Fri. January 6, 2012 - 9:12 AM PST
SAN JOSE, CA (WCJB) – A San Jose elementary school teacher charged with lewd acts on a child is being accused of having multiple victims, prosecutors said Friday. Craig Chandler (pictured left) 35, appeared in court in a brown jumpsuit Friday afternoon to be arraigned on two felony charges of lewd acts on a child. Chandler was arrested on Tuesday night at his home in San Jose on suspicion of several counts of aggravated sexual assault involving a child in the 7- to 8-year-old age range. Prosecutor Alison Philo Friday said multiple victims have been identified. “We have probable cause to believe that more than one victim was involved,” Philo said. She said Chandler could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted on the charges. She would not comment on the children’s gender and age, but said they are all younger than 14. Chandler’s attorney said that Chandler would “deny the allegations vehemently.”
“Mr. Chandler’s very devastated by these allegations,” he said. “We asked that the police reports remain under seal until we have an opportunity to review the case and the judge has agreed to do that.” Chandler is suspected of committing at least one of the crimes against an O.B. Whaley Elementary School student at the campus at 2655 Alvin Ave. between August and October, police said. Investigators have not released the child’s age or gender. According to police, Chandler teaches a second and third grade combination class at O.B. Whaley and has been teaching at the school for the past nine years. The Evergreen School District posted a statement on its website on Wednesday stating that Chandler has been placed on leave “in accordance with district protocol.” The statement read, “We want to assure the community that the safety and well-being of our children is our primary concern.” Chandler’s next hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 31. He is being held without bail at the Santa Clara County Main Jail.
Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012, 10:43 PM - Updated: Fri. January 6, 2012 05:06 PM PST
(Daniel Montague Acker Jr., above, taught fourth grade at three schools and drove buses in the Shelby County school system from 1985 until he retired in 2009.)
ALABASTER, Ala. - An Alabama schoolteacher was jailed on charges of sexually abusing a fourth-grade female student, and police said Thursday the man told them he molested more than 20 other girls over his 25-year career. Alabaster police said Daniel Montague Acker Jr., 49, was charged with three counts of sexual abuse, and additional charges were possible. "This is not a one-time event," said Deputy Chief Curtis Rigney. "This happened over a period of 25 years." Acker taught fourth grade at three schools and drove buses in the Shelby County school system from 1985 until he retired in 2009. He was investigated on similar allegations in 1992, but grand jurors did not return an indictment, said Rigney.
A girl who is now 12 or 13 came forward within the last week claiming Acker molested her around 2009, when he was a teacher at Thompson Intermediate School, Rigney said. He wouldn't say what drove the girl to go to police. At least one instance of alleged abuse occurred in a classroom in front of other students, Rigney said, but it wasn't clear whether the children saw anything or realized what had happened.
An attorney for Acker did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Acker was being held in the Shelby County jail with bond set at $225,000. A jail mug shot showed him wearing a vest meant to prevent prisoner suicides. Acker remained on the school payroll as a substitute bus driver until this week, Rigney said. Acker's father, Dan M. Acker, is a longtime commissioner in Shelby County, just south of Birmingham, but Rigney said there was no indication his father's position helped the teacher avoid charges earlier.
Shelby County schools spokeswoman Cindy Warner said Acker was placed on leave while child abuse allegations were investigated in October 1992, and the county school board voted against firing him in February 1993 after grand jurors did not indict him. She said Acker was reinstated as a fourth-grade teacher at Creek View Elementary, where he worked before moving to Thompson Intermediate.
In a statement, Superintendent Randy Fuller said the district was cooperating with police and would no longer use Acker as a substitute bus driver or in any other capacity. We can only say that the allegations are shocking," Fuller said. "We, as a school district, understand that child abuse is horrible with devastating consequences to victims and their families."
Confronted by police, Acker admitted molesting the girl who went to officers. He also told investigators he had abused more than 20 other girls but did not name any alleged victims, Rigney said. Acker is no longer cooperating with investigators, he said. Investigators believe most if not all of the girls were in Acker's classes, Rigney said. But police are trying to see if some of the girls were students in other teachers' classrooms. "He was in a school. We don't know what contact he might have had with other kids," said Rigney. Acker's arrest stunned residents in the Birmingham suburb of 28,000, where he was well-known for his long teaching career. "Everybody knows Danny," said former city councilman Bobby Harris, shaking his head.
Posted: 6:32 a.m. Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 - Updated: 10:22 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL — A former Lauderhill Middle School teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with a student entered a no contest plea to aggravated child abuse charges Monday, accepting a punishment of three years in prison instead of a lifetime as a registered sex offender. Kristen Nicole Sullivan, 27 (pictured left) was immediately granted a furlough and will have to surrender to begin her prison term by 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 3, 2012. If she fails to appear, Broward Circuit Judge Lisa Porter said, the three years will be increased to 90. As part of the plea bargain, Sullivan's jail term will be followed by five years' probation, during which time she will not be allowed to take a job teaching children. Sullivan was formally sentenced to 30 years in prison on each of two aggravated child abuse counts and 15 years on each of two aggravated battery counts, a total of 90 years behind bars. Porter said that sentence will be applied if Sullivan fails to surrender on Jan. 3, 2012.
Prosecutors offered her another deal that would have kept Sullivan out of prison but convicted her of sexual battery on a minor by a person with custodial authority – a conviction that would have labeled Sullivan a sex offender. Sullivan turned that offer down. Her lawyer said the prison term was preferable in the long run. "This way, she doesn't have to register as a sex offender, which would follow you the rest of your life," he said. Acknowledging that his client was the adult who "should have known better," her attorney said one reason prosecutors agreed to the plea was that the student, who was 13 when the relationship began, was the pursuer. "It was a serious lapse in judgment" on her part, the attorney said.
Prosecutor Nicole Alvarez did not comment on the deal. Police arrested Sullivan in April 2010 after a Lauderhill Middle School student claimed he had a sexual relationship with her lasting almost a year. Police said the relationship was revealed when the boy's girlfriend found incriminating text messages on his cellphone — a gift from Sullivan for the boy's 14th birthday. Alvarez did not lay out the case against Sullivan, instead citing a probable cause complaint filed shortly after her arrest.
According to that report, Sullivan met the student at Lauderhill Middle School in the beginning of 2009. In May of that year, the relationship turned sexual. In April 2010, the student's new girlfriend told police that she intercepted text messages from Sullivan to the student. "I'm tired of being the one chasing you," one read. "Why are you ignoring me?" read another. Police monitored a phone call between the student and Sullivan on April 19, 2010, confirming the sexual nature of the relationship, according to the report. She was arrested the next day.
Sullivan, of Plantation, was a high school student when she started working for the Broward School District in 2000 at Silver Trail Middle School in Pembroke Pines. She worked as a bookkeeper at the school and at Glades Middle School in 2003. In August 2006, she went to Lauderhill Middle as a full-time microcomputer technical specialist. She was a teacher from October 2007 to November 2009, when she took a clerical position at the district's Educational Technology Services department.
Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:32pm PST - Updated:
National Youth Coaching & Ministries!
LAKELAND, Fla. — Polk County deputies arrested a teacher and the head football coach at George Jenkins High School in Lakeland for alleged sex crimes involving children. The Polk County Sheriff's Office said both suspects are youth ministers but it didn't immediately identify them. However, the media source said Matt Thompson (pictured above, center) the head football coach at George Jenkins High School, was arrested. The newspaper said Thompson, 30, is accused of having sexual activity with a 17-year-old female student. He faces two counts of sexual battery by a person of custodial authority, the newspaper said. The local media also said Thompson has been under investigation by the school district for alleged harassment. The newspaper said that investigation involved allegations that athletes falsified information. It's not clear whether Thompson's arrest is related to the district's investigation.
The local media said Thompson has been the coach at George Jenkins High School for the past two seasons. The media also said he previously coached at Wildwood High School in Sumter County. In his two seasons at Wildwood, Thompson led Wildwood to the state playoffs each year. Before that, he coached at Paris (Ky.) High. Thompson grew up in London, Ky., and played college football there, but his playing career as a linebacker was abbreviated by four shoulder surgeries. He worked as an assistant at two high schools in Kentucky before coming to Melbourne Central Catholic, where he was an assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and head weightlifting coach. After his stay at MCC, he went to Paris, the third-smallest football playing school in the state. Thompson denied inappropriate behavior with any students.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office declined to release additional information until a news conference at 11 a.m. today.
30-year-old teacher Edward Demoreta (pictured above, center-left) was charged with three counts of lewd battery on a victim between the ages of 12 and 15. Detectives say that the victim was a student at Mulberry Middle School and admitted to having a crush on Demoreta. She admitted to performing oral sex on him three times while he was her teacher. The first time was at his request after a tutoring session on campus. The other times were at her request while he was giving her a ride to church, saying once the act was performed in the church parking lot. Demoreta admitted to detectives that he allowed her to perform oral sex on him, but denied initiating any sex.
27-year-old Ricardo Navarro (pictured above, center-right) was charged with enticing a child to use a computer to distribute pornography and two other counts. According to an affidavit, the 14-year-old victim, a member of the youth group at the First Assembly of God in Mulberry, claims that Navarro attempted to fondle her breasts and touched her hand to his penis while inside the church. The victim also received text messages from Navarro's phone requesting "sexy" and "skin" photos from her. Navarro told detectives that he did not recall attempting to touch her, but did confess to sending the text messages and requesting to see pictures of the victim naked.
Demoreta and Navarro were youth pastors. Officials say that while the three cases are separate investigations, the victim in two of the cases is the same girl.
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