A former Los Angeles school teacher being investigated for nearly a year in the molestation of 20 children, the majority of them girls aged 7 and 8, was arrested and charged on Wednesday, but not in time to keep him from receiving his pension.
Prosecutors filed 15 charges against Robert Pimentel, 57, including sexual abuse and lewd acts on a child.
Pimentel quit his teaching position at George de la Torre Jr. Elementary School while the 10-month investigation was underway, according to the LA Times
. The sexual abuse occurred over a six-month period beginning in late 2011.
Upon learning of the allegations, the Los Angeles Unified School District immediately removed Pimentel from the classroom, alerting the parents of his students, and dismissing the school's principal for apparently failing to thoroughly investigate him prior to his hiring.
Despite being removed from their positions at the school, Pimentel and his principal will still receive their full pensions because they retired before the school board was able to fire them.
Complaints from several fourth-grade girls triggered the investigation. They told authorities that Pimentel had inappropriately touched them between September 2011 and March 2012,
Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Fabian Lizarraga told the Times that Pimentel is also suspected of victimizing eight other children, as well as one adult. Police did not specify whether these victims were connected with the school.
The scandal follows a sex abuse incident that came to light last February involving another L.A. school teacher, at Miramonte Elementary School, who was accused of blindfolding and gagging his students with tape during a "tasting game" in which he fed them cookies laced with his bodily fluids.
Mark Berndt, 61, was charged with 23 counts of committing lewd acts on children. The case has not yet been resolved.
A November audit of the school district found that L.A. school officials did not promptly report 150 cases of suspected teacher misconduct to state authorities, which is against the law. In response to the audit, district officials claim they have addressed the issues highlighted in the report.
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