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Category: Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara City College wins prestigious award

Santa Barbara City College on Tuesday was awarded the Aspen Prize —  a prestigious award recognizing high achievement among community colleges.

The award, which Santa Barbara City College shared with Walla Walla Community College in Washington, is in recognition of the schools’ success in student learning outcomes, degree completion, transfer rates and for facilitating minority and low-income students success.

Both were selected from more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide. The award was announced at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

“Santa Barbara City College and Walla Walla Community College offer outstanding models for achieving exceptional levels of student success at a time when our nation needs community colleges to do even more than they have in the past,” said Josh Wyner, the executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program.

The program lauded Santa Barbara City College’s success with its burgeoning population of Latino students — over 30% of the student body — who graduate and transfer at higher rates than the national average.

Overall, over half the students who attend the college and transfer to four-year colleges attain a bachelor’s degree within six years of graduating high school. About 64% of first-time, full-time students transfer or graduate within three years — above the national average of about 40%.

Both Santa Barbara City College and Walla Walla Community College will receive a $400,000 prize to support their programs.

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UC Berkeley and UCLA ranked among top 10 universities worldwide

Powell Library is framed by the arches of Royce Hall at UCLA.

The University of California system once again scored very well in an annual reputational ranking of world research universities by the Times Higher Education magazine of Great Britain, with UC Berkeley and UCLA in the top 10, officials announced Monday.

Harvard topped the list, followed by MIT, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Princeton, UCLA, the University of Tokyo and Yale in the publication’s “World Reputation Rankings.” The evaluations are based on a survey of more more than 16,000 senior academics.

Other California schools in the top 100: Caltech placed No. 11, UC San Diego 34, UC San Francisco 40, UC Davis 48, UC Santa Barbara in the general grouping between 51 and 60, and USC in the grouping between 61 and 70.

The British magazine also does a more in-depth annual study using objective criteria such as funding and research productivity. In that ranking, Caltech was the highest this year, with Stanford and Oxford tied for second, followed by Harvard and MIT. UC Berkeley was ninth and UCLA 13th in that listing issued in the fall.

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Photo: Powell Library is framed by the arches of Royce Hall at UCLA. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Family of TV anchor who was missing says she had medical problem

Paula LopezThe family of Santa Barbara TV news anchor Paula Lopez, who returned home after she was reported missing, said Thursday that she suffered a medical emergency that prevented her from communicating with other people.

Lopez, 48, who anchors for KEYT-TV Channel 3, was reported missing Wednesday morning. Lopez is a longtime fixture in the Santa Barbara community and is married to a Superior Court judge.

Her family alerted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office that she was gone, triggering a quick response by deputies who used search dogs as they scoured the area. 

On Thursday, her family thanked well-wishers and sheriff's personnel and spoke out for the first time on the circumstances involving her reported disappearance.

"We are extremely grateful to the Santa Barbara community and to the multitude of Paula’s well-wishers who shared in our concern for Paula yesterday. As a family, we were very alarmed because Paula was experiencing a medical condition that caused her to be unable to communicate with us. She is now receiving appropriate medical care and we hope and expect that her treatment will enable her to recover quickly," the family said in a statement, which was published on the KEYT-TV website.

"We would especially like to thank the representatives of the Office of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff and its Search and Rescue Unit for the diligent and professional assistance they provided to us during Paula’s medical emergency," the family said.

Lopez, who spent six years at KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles, co-anchors the Santa Barbara station's 11 p.m. broadcast. She has spent the better part of two decades at KEYT, where she first worked as an intern in 1985, according to her biography on KEYT's website. She then worked at KCAL in Los Angeles before returning to KEYT in 1996 to spend more time with her family.

Lopez and her husband, Frank Ochoa, have three children.

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— Robert J. Lopez

twitter.com/LAJourno

Photo: Paula Lopez. Credit:  KEYT-TV Channel 3

Carpinteria youth pastor arrested in alleged rapes

A Carpinteria youth pastor is accused of raping two teenage girls he met through his church work, authorities said Thursday.

Louis Joseph Bristol, 28, is being held at Santa Barbara County Jail in lieu of $2 million bail, according to a news release from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities said the girls, both juveniles, received "inappropriate" texts and photos from Bristol this year and in 2012. He raped each of them in vacant rooms at the Holiday Inn Express where he worked as an assistant manager, according to the release.

Bristol was a high school pastor at Carpinteria Community Church.

He is charged with multiple counts of child molestation, child rape, and lewd acts upon a child. In addition, he is accused of providing marijuana to youth group members and charged with furnishing an illegal substance to minors.

Detectives said they suspect there may be additional victims.

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Family declines to say how TV anchor Paula Lopez went missing

Paulalopez

The family of Santa Barbara TV news anchor Paula Lopez, who was reported missing but was later found, said Wednesday night that they were not elaborating on how she returned home.

Lopez, 48, who anchors for KEYT-TV Channel 3, had "gone missing" Wednesday about 10:30 a.m., the news station said in a statement. Lopez is a longtime fixture in the community and is married to a Superior Court judge.

Her family alerted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office that she was gone, triggering a response by deputies who used search dogs as they scoured the area. The rapid response raised questions about whether the family received favorable treatment. Often, law enforcement authorities wait 24 hours before declaring a person missing and launching search efforts.

News footage showed Lopez’s husband, Frank Ochoa, arriving at the home Wednesday night in his gray Lexus with what appeared to be a woman in the passenger’s seat. The family contacted the Sheriff's Office on Wednesday about 5:30 p.m. to say that Lopez was safe at home, KEYT-TV said on its website.

“Paula has been located,” a spokesman for the family told reporters gathered outside the home Wednesday night. “We’re not giving out any details right now.”

Lopez, who spent six years at KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles, co-anchors the Santa Barbara station's 11 p.m. broadcast. She has spent the better part of two decades at KEYT, where she first worked as an intern in 1985, according to her biography on KEYT's website. She then worked at KCAL in Los Angeles, but returned to KEYT in 1996 to spend more time with her family.

Lopez and her husband have three children.

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-- Robert J. Lopez
twitter.com/LAJourno

Photo: Paula Lopez. Credit: KEYT-TV Channel 3

Missing Santa Barbara TV anchor Paula Lopez found safe

Paulalopez

A Santa Barbara TV news anchor who had been reported missing was found and was safe with her family at home, her station reported Wednesday evening.

Paula Lopez, 48, of KEYT-TV Channel 3 had "gone missing" Wednesday morning, the news station said in a statement.

It was unclear Wednesday evening where Lopez had gone or how she came to be found. The news station told The Times that the situation was a "personal matter."

Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office deputies launched a search for the news anchor, scouring a large grassy area near her home and patrolling adjacent streets.  

Lopez, who spent six years at KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles, co-anchors the Santa Barbara station's 11 p.m. broadcast.

Lopez has spent the better part of two decades at KEYT. She first joined the Santa Barbara station as an

intern in 1985, according to her biography on KEYT's website. She worked for at KCAL in Los Angeles, but returned to KEYT in 1996 to spend more time with her family.

Lopez is married to Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa, her biography says. They have three children.

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Missing TV anchor Paula Lopez last seen at home, authorities say

PaulalopezThis post has been corrected. See note below for details.

Santa Barbara authorities confirmed that they are searching for a longtime television anchor who was last seen at her home Wednesday morning.

Paula Lopez, 48, an anchor for KEYT-TV Channel 3, spoke to her family about 9:30 a.m. and "has not been seen or heard from since," according to Santa Barbara sheriff's officials. No foul play was immediately suspected, authorities said, "but her family is concerned about her welfare."

Deputies have searched the area around Lopez's home near Cathedral Oaks and North San Marcos roads. Search and rescue personnel were combing the area using dogs and a helicopter.

Lopez is 5-foot-2 and was last seen wearing a black sweat suit and tennis shoes. Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call detectives at (805) 681-150.

KEYT-TV Channel 3 said in a statement that it had learned Wednesday morning that Paula Lopez had "gone missing."

"We have been in touch with her family and know they, as well as local authorities, are doing everything possible to find her safe and sound," KEYT General Manager Mark Danielson said. "Our thoughts and prayers are extended to Paula as well as her family and those searching to find her.... We hope for her safe and speedy return."

Lopez has spent the better part of two decades at KEYT, first joining the Santa Barbara station as an intern in 1985, according to her biography on KEYT's website. She spent six years at KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles, but returned to KEYT in 1996 to spend more time with her family.

Lopez is married to Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa, her biography says. They have three children.

[For the record, 6:41 p.m.: A previous version of this post transposed the station's call letters as KYET.]

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Photo: Paula Lopez Credit: KEYT-TV

Santa Barbara TV anchor missing, station says

Paula LopezAuthorities are investigating the disappearance of a longtime Santa Barbara television news anchor, her station announced Wednesday.

KEYT-TV Channel 3 said in a statement that it had learned Wednesday morning that Paula Lopez had "gone missing." Lopez, who spent six years at KCAL-TV Channel 9 in Los Angeles, co-anchors the Santa Barbara station's 11 p.m. broadcast.

"We have been in touch with her family and know they, as well as local authorities, are doing everything possible to find her safe and sound," KEYT General Manager Mark Danielson said. "Our thoughts and prayers are extended to Paula as well as her family and those searching to find her.... We hope for her safe and speedy return."

Lopez has spent the better part of two decades at KEYT, first joining the Santa Barbara station as an intern in 1985, according to her biography on KEYT's website. She spent six years at KCAL in Los Angeles, but returned to KEYT in 1996 to spend more time with her family.

Lopez is married to Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Frank Ochoa, her biography says. They have three children.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Photo: Paula Lopez  Credit: KEYT TV

Santa Barbara County sheriff's clerk accused in thefts

A records clerk at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office has been arrested on suspicion of stealing jewelry worth more than $10,000 in a Goleta home burglary, authorities said Thursday.

Mary Methmann, 45, was arrested Wednesday.  Eight days earlier, she was placed on administrative leave for allegedly stealing $50 from the sheriff's office.

Santa Barbara County prosecutors have yet to review the jewelry case, according to a news release from the sheriff's office. But prosecutors have decided to take Methmann to court in the alleged office theft, the release said. 

"We are extremely disturbed that someone from within the sheriff’s office would betray the public trust in this manner,” Sheriff Bill Brown said. “Due to the policies and systems we have in place, investigators were quickly able to identify and take action on this unfortunate and aberrant employee behavior."

 A Carpinteria resident, Methmann has worked for the sheriff's office since 2005.

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Gang targeted 'typical American family' in hate crime, officials say

Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, and Efren Marquez, 21.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials say they are continuing to investigate alleged efforts by two Latino gang members to drive a black family from their Compton home.

“This is a typical American family,” said Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker of the victims who recently moved into a home on 153rd Street in Compton. “It is unsettling at the very least."

Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, of Compton, and Efren Marquez, 21, a resident of Riverside County, were arrested Thursday on suspicion of repeated attempts to terrorize the family, which moved in to the neighborhood on New Year's Eve.

Marquez, 21, allegedly pointed a gun at one of the family members and threatened to shoot him while he was allegedly being beaten with a metal pipe by Aguilar on New Year's Eve, authorities said.

The two were among a group of gang members who allegedly repeatedly rode by the family’s house yelling racial insults and threats and insisting that they move out, sheriff's officials said.

"It is tragic that it can happen in America, let alone L.A. County," Parker said. "We are not going to tolerate it. We are going to hold accountable everyone involved. We are not done with this investigation.”

Parker said the alleged attacks and threats by local Latino gang members were clearly racially motivated. The harassment and violence began the day the family moved into the house. That day, one member of the family, walking on the street, was confronted by four Latino gang members who drove up in a black SUV, Parker said.

They told the man that they were gang members and that his family was not allowed to live in their area because they were black, a sheriff's report said. The gang members shouted racial insults and violent threats until the man ran for home, according to the report. He was chased by the gang members, who then climbed from the SUV and began beating him with metal pipes, according to the report.

"They repeatedly used the 'n' word, then threatened violence before using a pipe to beat the man and pointed guns at him,” Parker said. “Later they repeatedly drove by the home threatening family members with racial epithets and warning them to get out of the neighborhood.”

During the incident Marquez pointed the gun while Aguilar beat the victim with a pipe, the sheriff's report said.

Sheriff’s detectives have searched 11 locations and say an investigation into the attacks is continuing. During one search of a Compton residence Thursday, they arrested a juvenile gang member, who fought with a deputy and attempted to remove the deputy's pistol.

Compton, with a population of about 97,000, was predominately black for many years. It has gone through enormous demographic change, and is now 65% Latino, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The city is 32.9% African American.

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Photo: Jeffrey Aguilar, 19, of Compton, and Efren Marquez, 21, a resident of Riverside County, were arrested Thursday. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

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About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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