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Teacher accused of lewd acts against 19 students at school

January 23, 2013 |  6:05 pm
George De La Torre Junior Elementary School in Wilmington

A Los Angeles Unified School District elementary school teacher was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of lewd acts and sexual abuse involving as many as 19 children.

Robert Pimental, 57, a teacher at George de la Torre Jr. Elementary in Wilmington, was taken into custody by the Los Angeles Police Department's juvenile division sex crimes unit.

Prosecutors filed 15 charges against Pimental on Wednesday involving a dozen victims. Detectives also said he victimized another seven children as well as one adult, though no charges have yet be filed in those cases.

Pimental is accused of "committing lewd acts and continual sexual abuse [fondling] of numerous students," said LAPD Capt. Fabian Lizarraga.The accusations date back March 2012.

The teacher was being held on $12-million bail Wednesday.

Last March, the LAUSD replaced the principal of George de la Torre Jr. Elementary shortly after opening an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by what officials at the time would describe only as a "male teacher."

This marks one of the most serious cases of alleged sexual abuse at an LAUSD campus since the high-profile Miramonte Elementary School case last year.

Former Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt, 61, faces 23 counts of lewd conduct and is being held in lieu of $23-million bail. He has pleaded not guilty. He has been accused of spoon-feeding his semen to blindfolded children as part of what he allegedly called a tasting game. He’s also accused of putting cockroaches on children's faces and feeding them semen-tainted cookies at the school, which is in Florence-Firestone.

So far, 126 students and 63 parents have filed claims for damages against L.A. Unified. There are also six lawsuits on behalf of 37 students and one involving 11 parents, according to attorneys and district officials.


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-- Richard Winton

Photo: The Wilmington school. Credit: L.A. Times