Seriously, what is with all these old men (allegedly) touching kids at L.A.'s low-income schools?
The October 8 arrest of a former third-grade teacher at Telfair Elementary -- Paul William Chapel, 50 -- is the latest big reveal in the media hunt for more LAUSD child molesters, after Miramonte Elementary was found to be a cesspool for pervy adults.
The LA Daily News reports that Chapel...
... was charged with 16 counts of "continuous sexual abuse against three girls and one boy, all under age 14, between Sept. 13, 2010, and April 15, 2011." Those include "nine counts of committing a lewd act upon a child" and three counts of "committing a forcible lewd act" -- in which police say Chapel used "force, violence, duress, menace and threat of great bodily harm."
Telfair Elementary is located at the edge of the Valley, in minority-heavy Pacoima.
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Unlike with Miramonte's infamous Mark Berndt, the dirty details of Chapel's alleged sex abuse haven't been revealed. But with charges this serious, and a bail set at $2.2 million, it sounds like he may turn out to have been a serial sex monster.
Yet in the four-and-a-haf months since Chapel was fired and jailed, Los Angeles Unified School District officials never once notified parents that their children may have been exposed to a pedophile.
They express their shock to the Daily News:
Outside of Telfair, parents expressed frustration that they hadn't been told that a teacher had been arrested on sex-abuse charges. Their comments echoed those of parents at Miramonte Elementary School in South L.A., where authorities kept their investigation of a teacher secret for more than a year.
"We were never informed of this. It's a big shock," said Sylvia Hernandez, who has children in third grade and preschool. "We would like to be informed. We'd like to know what's going on with our children in school. That's the least we can expect. We send them to school and you expect for them to be taken care of here."
As far as we know, LAUSD isn't required by state law to notify parents when something like this happens on campus -- and teachers unions are known to discourage any official accusations against teachers until the verdict is in. (In an investigation by the Dallas Morning News of similar policy in Texas, a union rep said, "It's hard to know how to come down on it. You have to find that line to protect kids and not get into a witch hunt mode against teachers.")
But in Berndt's case, for example, additional victims who may have been fed semen by their teacher didn't know to get an STD test. During the year-long investigation after Berndt was fired, these kids were under the impression that they had participated in a harmless "tasting game."
When the media breaks a story like Chapel's -- instead of LAUSD or the LAPD -- it gives residents the impression that these creeps are everywhere.
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Superintendent John Deasy chose to relocate Miramonte's entire teaching staff yesterday, to give the impression of a full-house cleaning. But what's different now than a year ago, when district heads first laid eyes on Berndt's horrid photographs? And if Miramonte teachers are all given this "contaminated" label, how will they be received at other schools? Are those schools so clean themselves? We could have a hundred Miramontes in this district, for all we know.
To dispel the fear, parents must be notified immediately when a teacher is arrested for child abuse. We thought the media was behind this witch hunt -- but it's really LAUSD, with all its union-catering secrecy. For more, see: "Miramonte's Berndt Got $80,000 From L.A. School Board to Quietly Walk Away Despite Alleged Sex-Abuse Atrocities."
Update: Deasy tells CBS LA that there is something "fundamentally wrong" with the California laws that make it near impossible for the district to fire teachers. He also says LAUSD is considering a psychiatric evaluation during the hiring process.