Tarzana -- Jason Leon, a Tarzana middle school teacher, was arrested on Monday for multiple charges of molesting students.
The investigation started last year on the very last day of school in June. That's when a 13-year-old girl at Gaspar Portola Middle School reported that her teacher, Mr. Leon, had touched her inappropriately. Three days later, another 13-year-old girl came forward saying basically the same thing. And then a third.
As the LAPD moved in to investigate, LA Unified moved Leon right out of the classroom, assigning him to anything but working with kids.
According to sources close to the investigation, the three girls told police that their teacher was a little bit too touchy feely, often massaging their shouders, their back and sometimes a little lower. His hands, said the girls, were lingering way too long to the point they felt uncomfortable. One girl reported he would come up to her and touch her mouth and face.
Leon is charged with four counts of child molestation and three counts of battery. If convicted, he could face up to 5 1/2 years in jail and $26,000 in fines, mateljan said.
This is just the latest arrest of a Los Angeles Unified School District teacher on charges of molestation. Robert Pimentel, 57, a former fourth-grade teacher at Wilmington's George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School, was arrested Jan. 23 and faces sex-related counts involving a dozen children.
Former state Sen. Martha Escutia -- now a partner at an Irvine Law firm that represents dozens of children allegedly molested by teachers at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles -- has filed suit against the district and called for an independent investigation of what she believes is disproportionate sexual abuse of Latino students by LAUSD teachers.
Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt -- who allegedly took photos of blindfolded and gagged students with a roach on their faces or spoons of semen held to their mouths -- remains jailed in lieu of $23 million bail, while Miramonte teacher's aide Ricardo Guevara is serving a prison term of 15 years to life.
Paul Chapel, who taught at Telfair Elementary in Pacoima, was sentenced Sept. 20 to 25 years in prison.
Kip Richard Arnold, 51, a former Southwest Middle School physical education teacher, was sentenced Dec. 17 to four years and four months in prison for committing lewd acts with a 14-year-old girl. Arnold made headlines by careening his pickup truck over an embankment during a July 10 police chase related to the allegations.
On Dec. 18, a 14-year-old former LAUSD student was awarded $23 million in damages for sexual misconduct he endured at the hands of elementary school teacher Forrest Stobbe. The LAUSD was apportioned 30 percent of the fault in that case, according to the boy's attorney.
LAUSD officials are conducting a comprehensive review of how sexual abuse allegations are handled, and an attorney for the district says addressing misconduct is a priority.
"The school district is committed to providing a safe environment for students to learn and thrive," LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist said Jan. 29, the day Escutia's firm filed suit.