Teacher Accused of Molestation by Three Former Students

A Los Angeles Unified School District teacher was accused of molestation by three of his former second grade students at El Sereno Elementary School on Wednesday.

L.A. Unified confirmed that it had moved to fire the teacher, Armando Gonzalez, in 2012 over alleged misconduct. But specific details about the allegations were not immediately available Wednesday night, district spokesman Sean Rossall said.

Gonzalez could not be reached for comment, and Los Angeles police were not able to confirm if an investigation was underway.

The litigation involves three of Gonzalez’ former students.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that teacher Armando Gonzalez kissed, fondled and inappropriately touched three young girls between 2008 and 2010, resulting in “extensive physical, psychological and emotional damage.” The three girls were between 8 and 11 years old at the time of the alleged abuse.

The students did not report the alleged wrongdoing until recently. The girls “discovered that the psychological injury, illness and suffering” they subsequently experienced were “caused by the childhood sexual harassment, molestation and abuse,” according to the suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Dating back to 2007, the school district was warned that Gonzalez was unfit to teach based on episodes of touching, fondling and kissing girls on the lips, the suit charges. The period of abuse recounted in the lawsuit spans 2008 through 2010.

The lawsuit also alleges that Gonzalez may have molested up to 15 children beginning in 2007 and that district officials ignored numerous “red flags” that could have kept other children from being harmed.

In addition to his work as a teacher, Gonzalez was involved in after-school activities and youth programs, the suit said.

L.A. Unified School District said it is looking into the matter.

“Our hearts go out to the victims in this matter. We take all allegations of misconduct seriously,” Rossall said. “Our top priority is the health and welfare of our students.”

According to Rossall, Gonzalez was reassigned to an administrative office on March 16, 2010 the day the district received a misconduct complaint, and never returned to the classroom.

The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed they received reports of abuse about Gonzalez in 2010 and then again in 2012. The department investigated both, but the first case was dropped due to insufficient evidence.

After Gonzalez was removed from the classroom, he remained on payroll for almost two years while the district took steps to fire him.

Gonzalez was placed on unpaid status on January 11, 2012, one day after the school board voted to fire him, Rossall said.

Rossall added that when the district moved to dismiss Gonzalez in 2012, he contested the action. The teacher resigned last week without receiving a settlement, Rossall said.

“We have consistently refused to settle on this and aggressively pursued the dismissal until he resigned,” Rossall said.

L.A. Unified has settled 63 student claims in connection with that case; 68 are still being litigated.

The claims come one month after a judge ruled that LAUSD must pay millions in 61 settlements to families involved in a sexual abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School. The district paid $27 million in those cases, but other claims involving Miramonte Elementary School families remain unresolved.

A bill designed to streamline the process was forwarded to California Governor Jerry Brown earlier this month. The original bill died in committee in July but a resurrected version passed the Legislature.

The LAUSD statement issued Thursday said the bill does “not provide adequate protection for our students.”

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