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6 L.A. school workers arrested in sex cases in recent weeks

February 24, 2012 | 12:25 pm

Over the last three weeks, six employees have been booked on suspicion of sex-related crimes, while several others have been pulled from the classroom amid investigations.

Officials believe the uptick is tied to the publicity surrounding the arrest of Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt on lewd conduct charges.

On Thursday, authorities announced the arrest of a Roosevelt High School Spanish teacher on suspicion of having sex with two teenage boys. Gabriela Cortez, 42, was booked on suspicion of unlawful sexual intercourse.

FULL COVERAGE: Teacher sex-abuse investigations

Montebello police alleged that she had lengthy sexual relationships with the boys between 2008 and 2010. One of the teenagers, now 18, reported the teacher last week to police in Montebello, where she lives, said Chief Kevin McClure. After learning of the allegation, school officials immediately removed her from the classroom.

Berndt has been charged with photographing blindfolded and gagged students who thought they were taking part in a "tasting game."

Within a week of his arrest, another Miramonte instructor, second-grade teacher Martin Springer, was charged with lewd acts involving a girl in his classroom.

That same week, Paul Adame, a Germain Street Elementary School janitor, was arrested for alleged lewd acts involving a student at the Chatsworth campus. A little over a week later, an FBI sex crimes task force arrested Alain Salas, a coach and teacher's aide at Fremont High School in South Los Angeles. He has also been charged with lewd acts on a child.

Counselors had to be dispatched two weeks ago to Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima after it was revealed that teacher Paul Chapel had disappeared from the campus because of a molestation investigation. He was jailed in October.

School officials confirmed Wednesday that an unidentified teacher had resigned at Crenshaw High School amid an LAPD investigation into inappropriate conduct with a minor.

An athletic assistant at Francis Polytechnic High School in Sunland, Jose Rosario Alvarez, 27, was arrested Wednesday by the LAPD on suspicion of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl at another school.


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Public shouldn't pass judgment on Miramonte teacher, lawyer says

-- Richard Winton