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Teacher had sexual relationship with boys for 2 years, police say

February 24, 2012 |  7:44 am

Teacher accused

Police allege that a Roosevelt High School teacher had a sexual relationship with two boys for two years.

Gabriela Cortez, a 42-year-old Spanish teacher at the Boyle Heights campus, was booked Thursday on suspicion of unlawful sexual intercourse.

Police in Montebello, where Cortez lives, allege that she had lengthy sexual relationships with the boys between 2008 and 2010. One of the youths, now 18, reported the teacher last week, said Police Chief Kevin McClure.

After learning of the allegation, school officials immediately removed her from the classroom.

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

The media coverage after the arrest of Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, who is accused of spoon-feeding his semen to blindfolded children, has intensified discussion among school officials, parents and children about abuse.

"As a community, people are coming together and are hyper-vigilant about any other perpetrators. Everything is now being reported," said Pia Escudero, who directs L.A. Unified's mental health and crisis counseling services.

The district has seen an uptick in allegations of adult sexual misconduct in recent weeks. Counselors have been dispatched to several campuses -- including 45 at Miramonte, one for every classroom.

-- Richard Winton, Howard Blume and Sam Allen


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Photo: Students outside Roosevelt High School on Thursday. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times