After former Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt was charged with lewd acts upon 23 children, Los Angeles Unified was hit with a torrent of complaints about other teachers and staffers across the district.
These new allegations ranged from "child annoyance" to serious sexual misconduct and, to date, have resulted in charges of lewd acts or unlawful sex being filed against six other district employees. The 2011 arrest of one teacher for lewd acts was also recently made public after the Miramonte scandal broke.
The Huffington Post has also learned the names and schools of five more teachers or teacher's aides across the district that have been "housed" (removed to a non-teaching setting) while authorities investigate complaints about their conduct. They don't face criminal charges, are still technically employed by the district and are entitled to due process before the school board seeks dismissal.
These "housed" instructors include Hamilton High School music teacher Vance Miller, who is currently being sued by former students who claim to have engaged in sexual intercourse with him while in high school.
The increase in accusations reflects a "hyper-vigilant" school community that has become more attune to questionable behavior -- not an uptick in abuse, LA Unified mental health and crisis counseling services director Pia Escudero explained to the Los Angeles Times.
LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy has taken sweeping measures in response to district-wide sex abuse charges. After charges of lewd acts were filed against Miramonte teachers Mark Berndt and another teacher, Martin Springer, Deasy replaced the entire staff at the elementary school.
Deasy has also ordered all schools to submit or re-submit every complaint of teacher misconduct to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing dating back four years, reports KPCC. He did this in response to the credentialing commission's evaluation that the LAUSD broke the law by waiting one year to report the reason for Berndt's termination in 2011. State laws require school districts to report terminations due to teacher misconduct within 30 days, notes the Daily News.
Deasy is also challenging the teachers' unions to make a change in the teacher contract that may potentially be shielding abusers, reports the Los Angeles Times. A little-known clause currently calls for the purging of misconduct reports after four years if the accusations go unproven. Deasy would eliminate that clause to make it easier for administrators to spot problem teachers.
As investigations and charges filed against LA Unified staffers develop, we will continue to update this information.
Staff Position: Part-time teacher's aide for Gratts Learning Academy and a sports coach at the Los Angeles Academy of Arts & Enterprise. He has since been terminated from the Gratts post and no longer works at the Los Angeles Academy. Arrest Date: May 17, 2012 Accused Of: Dominguez was arrested after video of the alleged lewd acts was sent to the Los Angeles Police Department. The victim was 12 when the alleged abuse began, and the abuse allegedly took place over a span of three years. The two met at the Los Angeles Academy. Current Status: Dominguez faces arraignment May 21, where he will be charged with 10 counts of lewd act on a child under 14. He is also charged with one count each of lewd act on a child 14 or older and possession of child pornography. If convicted, he could face 27 years and four months in state prison. Prosecutors recommended his bail be set at $550,000.
Staff Position: Band director Arrest Date: Monday, February 27 Accused Of: Having sex with a 17-year-old teen on the Dantzler Prep Charter School's dance team. The teen and her mother went to the Hawthorne police and reported the incident, which allegedly occurred last September. Investigators say that Hogan befriended the teen and drove her and some friends to their homes after a football game. After everyone else had been dropped off, the teen went to Hogan's home to have sex with him. Current Status: Hogan was out on $100,000 bail soon after he was arrested. His scheduled to make his first court appearance on April 9.
Staff Position: Spanish Teacher Arrest Date: Wednesday, February 22 Accused Of: Having unlawful sex with two male students. One of the students, now an adult, approached Montebello police in early February because his conscience was bothering him, reports the Associated Press. The investigation revealed a second victim, who has also since graduated. Current Status: Cortez was released on $140,000 bail and placed on administrative leave from her job. Her first court date is scheduled for March 22.
Staff Position: Athletic Assistant Arrest Date: Wednesday, February 22 Accused Of: Having sex with a 16-year-old student who attends another school in the Los Angeles Unified district. Police were alerted to the relationship in early February and found inappropriate contact between the two both over the internet and in person. Watch CBS2's video report from the night after his arrest. Current Status: The day after his arrest, Alvarez was released on $20,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 15. The school district has said that Alvarez will not have contact with students while the investigation is pending, reports the Associated Press.
Staff Position: Teacher's Aide Arrest Date: Monday, February 13 Accused Of: 3 counts of lewd acts and 1 count of contacting a minor for a sexual offense, according to the Associated Press. The FBI says that a 15-year-old student is the victim. Current Status: Salas was released on bail on the 16th. He pled not guilty when he appeared in court a few days after he was arrested. He's set to appear in court again on March 9.
Staff Position: Janitor Arrest Date: Monday, February 6 Accused Of: Committing a lewd act with a child on school campus. Current Status: Adame was booked and released on $100,000 bail. In the past, he has been arrested for grand theft auto and other offenses, but he has only ever been convicted of "driving without an owner's consent," reports Chatsworth Patch. He has been pulled from school duties.
Staff Position: Third grade teacher Arrest Date: Friday, February 3 Accused Of: Initially, two elementary school students had come forward to accuse him of fondling them. However, he was eventually charged for lewd acts upon just one girl after the other recanted her story. Current Status: Springer was released on bail on February 9, but the judge ordered that he wear an electronic ankle monitor and stay away from the alleged victims, schools and parks, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Staff Position: Third grade teacher Arrest Date: Monday, January 30 Accused Of: Taking "bondage" photos of children with cockroaches on their face and their mouths duct-taped shut. The photos also depict children eating cookies with a white substance on them, which authorities allege is Berndt's own semen. Current Status: Berndt is being held at the Twin Towers correctional facilities in lieu of $23 million bail. At his arraignment, he pled "not guilty" to charges of lewd acts upon 23 students. He's set to appear in court again on March 28.
Staff Position: Third grade teacher Arrest Date: October 8, 2011. As of February 9, 2012, he has been held in jail on $2.2 million bail. Accused Of: Continuous sexual abuse against 3 girls and 1 boy from 2010 to 2011, according to the Daily News. Current Status: Chapel is currently in jail in lieu of $2.2 million bail. A court appearance is scheduled on March 20. The school district placed Chapel on unpaid leave when he was arrested in October. Since then, his teaching license has been suspended by state officials, reports the Daily News. Chapel faces 15 years to life if convicted.