Guest post by Ross Brenneman
The Los Angeles Police Department on Wednesday arrested a 57-year-old elementary school teacher accused of sexually abusing 20 children over the course of his 40-year-career.
Robert Pimental, a teacher at George de la Torre Jr. Elementary School, in Wilmington, Calif., allegedly sexually abused 20 children and one co-worker. Police suspect Pimental of inappropriately touching children under and over their clothing. He faces 15 charges, including sexual abuse and lewd acts on a child, according to the Los Angeles Times. Pimental is currently being held on $12 million bail.
Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent John Deasy removed both Pimental and the school's principal in March 2012 after some of the victims reported Pimental's behavior to their parents. Police spent the ensuing months investigating.
Before Deasy could move for a formal termination by the city board of education, however, both employees retired, thereby gaining access to their full pensions. This echoes the tactics used by Mark Berndt, a former teacher at LAUSD's Miramonte Elementary; police arrested Berndt in January 2012 on allegations that he fed spoonfuls of his semen to students. Berndt is still awaiting trial, though he pleads not guilty.
In the Miramonte case, Deasy temporarily replaced the entire school staff after further allegations of sexual abuse emerged about another teacher, Martin Springer.
The Miramonte case also led state senator Alex Padilla to introduce SB 1530, a bill that would quicken the removal process of teachers charged with misconduct. The original bill died in a state assembly committee after opposition from the California Teachers Association. Padilla re-introduced the bill before the new state senate this past December, as SB 10. The Los Angeles school board once again endorsed Padilla's efforts on Jan. 15 of this year.