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Child molestation probe into Hamilton High music teacher reopened

February 7, 2012 | 12:48 pm

Vance Miller

Los Angeles police have reopened a child molestation investigation into former Hamilton High School music teacher Vance Miller, law enforcement sources told The Times.

Miller and his employer, the Los Angeles Unified School District, are the subject of civil lawsuits by two former students, the second of which was filed Tuesday.

While an attorney announced the lawsuit, the L.A. Board of Education met in closed session Tuesday to vote on firing Miller, 59, and another teacher accused separately of sexual misconduct at Miramonte Elementary School.

PHOTOS: Sex abuse charges spark parent uproar

In the Hamilton cases, both alleged victims are now adults, and the lawsuits recount a similar scenario. The suits claim Miller befriended and mentored both alleged victims and groomed them into relationships that escalated physically into sexual behavior.

“At no time until [media] reports came out did LAUSD reach out to parents and former students to inform them that these allegations were made, to see if there were additional victims,” said attorney Anthony De Marco. “Instead children were left to their own devices.”

District officials have said they could not conduct an internal investigation until cleared to do so by police, which happened last fall, they said. The initial police inquiry resulted in no charges being filed, but investigators reopened their probe in the wake of stories about the case by the L.A. Times and KPCC radio.

The media inquiry also prompted a new review by L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy, who decided that there is enough evidence to fire Miller without delay. Miller has declined to comment. An attorney for Miller has defended his integrity as have many former students and parents from Hamilton.

The other alleged abuse case before the school board Tuesday is that of Martin Bernard Springer, who has been charged with lewd conduct for allegedly fondling two students at Miramonte.

Allegations against Springer were uncovered after officials arrested his Miramonte colleague Mark Berndt for lewd conduct that allegedly included feeding his semen to blindfolded students.

On Monday, Deasy announced he would replace the entire staff at Miramonte.


'Culture of silence' probed at school rocked by abuse scandal

L.A. school to be closed for two days for sex-abuse investigation

Attendance drops at school where 2 teachers are suspected of abuse

-- Howard Blume and Richard Winton

Photo: LAUSD teacher Vance Miller is under investigation. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times