A former teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District was sentenced on Thursday to 12 years in prison for sexual abuse of his students, officials said.
Robert Pimentel, 58, taught fourth grade at George De La Torre Elementary School in Wilmington. He had worked for the Los Angeles County School District since 1974.
Deputy District Attorney Lee Ashley Cernok said Pimentel sexually abused multiple girls, who were between 6 and 10 years old, between 2002 and 2012.
"He is not a molestor of children, he is not a pedophile," Pimentel's sister, Lily Pimtentel-Stratton, told NBC4 on Thursday. "He wanted to end it all. He did not plead guilty, he is not guilty on any of these counts."
Pimtentel pleaded no contest on May 29 to four felony counts involving four victims, including one count of continuous sexual abuse and three counts of lewd acts on a child. He was ordered to register as a sex offender for life and to stay away from the victims for 10 years.
"He believed it was in his best interest to accept the offer made in light of the risks of going to trial, such as this, and we agreed with him," said Leonard Levine, Pimentel's attorney. "He has consistently denied the truths to these allegations."
Pimentel was removed from the classroom in 2012 when an investigation began after a student told her mother that he inappropriately touched her.
In April 2012, he retired from the LAUSD but was then arrested on the same molestation charges in January 2013.
Victims spoke at the sentencing and expressed hatred for their former teacher.
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"Mr. Pimentel, you are evil, and there is a special place in hell for people like you," one victim's parent said.
"You hurt me so much it affected my whole world," a victim said.
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The victims' attorney cited this case as part of a larger epidemic within the LAUSD.
"It needs to stop," the victims' attorney John Manly said. "The secrets need to go away and LAUSD needs to come the 21st Century and stop hiding this and admit they have a problem."
The LAUSD issued a statement after his sentencing:
"Today’s sentencing closes this chapter for the children and families involved. We know how painful trials can be, and appreciate the district attorney and courts expedient handling of the criminal matter. We hope that plaintiffs’ counsel will make the same commitment to work with us through the remaining civil matters.
"We have and will continue to aggressively fight to remove teachers committing misconduct. Not only will we continue efforts to ensure they are not around students in our school district, but we are committed to swiftly ending their employment and fighting to have their credentials revoked.
"Every day our teachers, staff and leadership work hard to protect the students who we serve. We have consistently taken steps to enhance our student safety efforts. Chief among these efforts were creating an electronic system for tracking reports of child abuse; a mandatory 72 hour notification policy; establishing a specialized investigation team to review misconduct allegations; providing additional trainings for parents and staff to identify potential abuse; and actively participating in a comprehensive audit by the state auditor of our reporting and investigative policies, which found them to be strong."