A 50-year-old former third grade teacher at a Pacoima elementary school has been arrested in connection with allegedly sexually abusing four kids under 14-years-old, including one student.
Paul Chapel, of Chatsworth, (pictured below) was being held at the Los Angeles County Jail with bail at $2.2 million.
Chapel is a former teacher at Telfair Elementary School in a largely Latino section of LA in Pacoima.
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He was arrested Oct. 8, 2011. Officials just this week announced his arrest, a fact that angered many parents and had school officials under fire.
"Unfortunately we found out this morning" that Chapel had been formally charged with lewd acts involving students, said Alma Pena-Sanchez, superintendent of local district 2.
Prosecutors accused Chapel in a 16-count criminal complaint, alleging "continuous sexual abuse" against three girls and one boy, spanning more than 30 weeks between Sept. 13, 2010, and April 15, 2011
During a news conference Friday evening, Pena-Sanchez repeatedly said parents were only informed that Chapel was removed and not the reasons behind his removal because school officials "could not compromise the police investigation."
School administrators were aware of LAPD detectives interviewing 22 students as part of the investigation, according to a statement released by police Friday evening.
"Once interviews were complete, the Department suggested the LAUSD delay discussing the case publicly and not conduct their internal investigation until the criminal case was resolved to ensure the integrity of the still on-going investigation was not compromised," the statement read.
Police said they would not ask the school district to withhold notifying parents of the allegations, according to the statement.
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy also said the district was not at liberty to inform parents and students about Chapel’s case.
"We are not an investigative body and they make it clear that we are not to talk about investigations, announce investigations or get yourself involved in investigations," Deasy said.
Parents were angry that the school took so long to inform them, a task largely accomplished by a slew of news reports.
"I’m mad because my daughter was in that year where everything happened. He was her teacher," said Juana Sanchez.
Another parent, Jessica Diaz, said families had a right to know what was going on.
Employees at TelFair Elementary said they, too, were kept in the dark.
"Every parent here is asking why why were they not told what happened?" said a staff member at the school who declined to give her name fearing retribution from the district. "Now all of the sudden this crap's coming out? It's wrong. It's wrong. Staff didn't even know what's going on."
News of Chapel’s arrest was the latest in a string of sex abuse allegations involving teachers and staff at LA schools.
Paul Adame, 37, a janitor at a Chatsworth elementary school, was arrested on Monday on suspicion of committing lewd acts on a child, according to authorities.
The arrests of two teachers at Miramonte Elementary School in the largely Latino area of LA known as Florence prompted officials to shut down the school for two days this week and replace its entire staff.
Third-grade Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt, 61, of Torrance, faces two dozen counts of sexually molesting 23 boys and girls between 2005 and 2010, the District Attorney’s Office said.
Berndt, a third grade teacher, was removed from the school campus in 2010 when the allegations arose. He has since retired.
Martin Bernard Springer, 49, faces three felony counts of lewd acts on a child. He was removed from the school and terminated.
Los Angeles police have reopened an investigation into molestation charges against Hamilton High School music teacher Vance Miller, who is the subject of two civil lawsuits.
The Los Angeles Unified School District fired the 35-year teacher on Tuesday.