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Teacher charged with sex abuse is fugitive in Mexico, police say

February 22, 2012 | 11:22 am

George Hernandez booking photoA Los Angeles substitute teacher charged with sexual misconduct with students is thought to be a fugitive in Mexico, police say.

George Hernandez, now 45, resigned from the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2007 but soon got another job teaching in the Inglewood Unified School District.

After police found a videotape of him allegedly molesting a second-grade girl, they filed charges against him, but he fled the area.

TABLE: Schools where Hernandez worked

Huntington Park Det. Jose Macias said relatives told him Hernandez is living in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

Experts say they can't understand why the Los Angeles Unified School District allowed Hernandez to teach for so long despite the accusations.

He was investigated by police three times for alleged sexual misconduct involving students. After the third investigation in 2007, he resigned from the L.A. district but soon got a job with the Inglewood school district.

FULL COVERAGE: School sex abuse investigation

"This guy should not have been kept in the district," said Kathleen Carroll, an attorney who worked for the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing. "This is an outrage."

L.A. Unified is looking into the situation but has found no evidence that it ever reported Hernandez to the state credentialing commission, said David Holmquist, the district's general counsel.

The commission could have suspended or revoked Hernandez's credential, preventing other school districts from hiring him. For its part, the Inglewood school district violated its own procedures by not fully vetting Hernandez's background before hiring him.

A civil lawsuit brought by the mother of the Inglewood student alleges L.A. Unified is liable for not taking action against Hernandez before he could harm her daughter.

"This is no different than moving an aberrant priest from one area to another," said Sanford Jossen, a Manhattan Beach attorney representing the girl.

In the last month, several L.A. Unified employees have been accused of abuse, including Mark Berndt, a teacher at Miramonte Elementary School in the Florence-Firestone neighborhood of South Los Angeles, who is charged with 23 counts of lewd conduct against students.

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-- Alan Zarembo, Howard Blume and Richard Winton

Photo: George Hernandez in 2010. Credit: Huntington Park Police Department

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