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Polytechnic investigation found no evidence of teacher misconduct

A teacher who got a job at Polytechnic School in Pasadena -- shortly after being accused of inappropriate conduct at another private school -- did not engage in sexual harassment or misconduct during his one-year employment at Polytechnic, according to an investigation by a special committee of school board and hired officials.

The teacher resigned from Polytechnic in early July.

The teacher had taught for more than a decade at Marlborough School, a prestigious school for girls in Hancock Park, before moving to Polytechnic after allegations about him surfaced. Marlborough said it had contacted authorities in July, and Los Angeles Police Department officials had said they were looking into the complaints.

The issue arose after Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie, a former Marlborough student who now is in college, published an online essay describing alleged sexual harassment by her English teacher that she said began when she was 16. She did not name the teacher or the school in her article, which...

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Ed Sullivan statue stolen from Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

A solid bronze statue of Ed Sullivan has been stolen from atop its pedestal at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame Plaza, police officials said Monday.

The statue, about 1 1/2 feet tall and weighing 20 pounds, was on display as part of an outdoor exhibit that featured legendary TV personalities and pioneers.

Los Angeles police detectives are calling on the public to help provide any information that would lead to the arrest of whoever committed this "grand theft."

Anyone with information regarding the missing statue should call LAPD North Hollywood burglary detectives at (818) 623-4081, or (877)-LAPD-24-7 during non-business hours or on weekends.

Those wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS or text the phone number 274637.

Follow @RosannaXia for more news in Southern California. 

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Man held in pepper spraying inside Covina Home Depot; 12 affected

A 38-year-old man was arrested Monday on suspicion of using pepper spray inside a Home Depot in Covina, which affected a dozen people, authorities said.

Covina police arrested Fernando Aldana-Rivera, of Covina, on suspicion of unlawful possession and use of a tear gas weapon.

Firefighters and police responded to a 911 call about 3:05 p.m. reporting that customers were having breathing problems due to an unknown chemical spill at the Home Depot in the 900 block of West Badillo Street. Hazardous materials officials also arrived on scene.

According to police, an argument had broken out between Aldana-Rivera and another customer, which led Aldana-Rivera to discharge pepper spray into the other man's face. The airborne particles quickly spread across the store and affected at least 12 people.

Four were taken to a hospital for minor eye irritation, said Los Angeles County Fire Dispatch Supervisor Art Marrujo.

Hazmat officials determined the area to be safe by about 4:30 p.m. The Home Depot...

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Reggie Miller's missing niece has returned home, officials say

The 16-year-old niece of former NBA star Reggie Miller has safely returned home, Orange County sheriff's officials said Monday evening.

Earlier, Miller and others were circulating a “missing child alert” for the television basketball analyst's niece, who was reported missing from her Yorba Linda home Monday.

Sheriff’s officials said they believed the 16-year-old had intentionally run away. She returned home about 9 p.m. Monday, authorities said.

The teen’s room was found empty about 7:15 a.m., and a call was placed to authorities.

Investigators and officers with bloodhounds responded to the scene but found no evidence that led them to believe she was taken against her will, Lt. John Roche said earlier in the day.

“Nothing lets us believe that anything bad happened,” he said.

“As with most teenagers, when they get hungry or run out of money, they want to come home,” Roche said.

The sheriff’s department had not  issued an official release when Miller tweeted the alert to his nearly...

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Driverless car rides? Garcetti hopes L.A. will be first

Los Angeles would be the first city offering people rides in self-driving cars, if Mayor Eric Garcetti fulfills one of his dreams.

At a downtown conference Monday on city innovations sponsored by The Atlantic magazine, Garcetti told attendees the city is working with UCLA to make the Westwood area a test site for a ride-sharing service like Lyft or Uber, but with automated cars.

Projects to test such new technology and infrastructure are needed, the mayor said, because "autonomous vehicles are going to be here."

Garcetti's comments came as he outlined a series of transportation improvements being made in Los Angeles, as well as some more futuristic proposals.

He said the ongoing expansion of the region's rail lines is "transformative for the car capitol." Some investments could have multi-mode possibilities, he suggested. Increasing construction of dedicated rapid bus lanes through the city could one day create pathways for self-driving cars, he said.

"How do you spend billions of...

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UC to make some campus bathrooms gender neutral

As part of a move to make UC campuses more comfortable for transgender and gay students, officials announced Monday that they would begin converting single-stall bathrooms into gender-neutral ones and include such facilities in new and renovated buildings.

The pledge by UC President Janet Napolitano is in response to a recommendation by an advisory council of students, faculty, staff and alumni on LGBT issues. The bathroom policy would widen an agreement UC reached in June with the union representing teaching assistants, tutors and readers that promised gender-neutral bathrooms within easy walking distance for UC employees.

A spokeswoman for UC said that many details remain to be worked out on the bathrooms, including the number of single-stall facilities possibly involved and any costs.

In another issue arising from the task force, UC will allow students to include a preferred name to be used on campus records along with their legal and birth names. This would aid students who may be...

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Civic and business leaders urge L.A. school board to keep Supt. Deasy

Local business and civic leaders are calling on the Los Angeles Board of Education to retain Supt. John Deasy, hoping to head off potential action by a board majority that is unhappy with the head of the nation's second-largest school system.

The school board is scheduled to meet behind closed doors Tuesday to plan Deasy's Oct. 21 job evaluation. But Deasy's supporters are concerned that he won't remain in the job until then.

"We are united in urging the LAUSD Board of Education to put our children’s interests first and retain Superintendent John Deasy," said the letter from the Civic Alliance, a group of key business and civic leaders. "Discharging Superintendent Deasy will have devastating implications to the education of our children, throwing the District into chaos with yet another transition at LAUSD."

That letter, sent to all seven school board members, is an unambiguous vote of confidence. It signifies that support for Deasy remains unwavering within the power base that has...

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Rancho Cucamonga community college gets grant

White House officials announced $450 million in new grants to community colleges Monday, including $15 million to a Rancho Cucamonga campus.

The grants are intended to increase job training programs at nearly 270 two-year schools nationwide. Each campus is expected to partner with businesses to expand programs for in-demand jobs such as healthcare and technology.

Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga will partner with other two-year campuses and UC Riverside to develop a technical workforce for the Inland Empire, according to a spokeswoman. The curriculum and business partners are still being planned.

Twitter: latjasonsong


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Sunset Strip repairs incomplete after water main break

All traffic lanes on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood that were flooded by a water main break may not be fully opened until at least Wednesday morning, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials said Monday.

While both eastbound lanes at the busy intersection of Sunset Boulevard and  La Cienega Boulevard were open, a westbound lane is expected to be closed to North Olive Drive until Wednesday and possibly as late as Friday because the concrete has not hardened enough for vehicles, said DWP spokesman Albert Rodriguez.

The sidewalks next to the intersection were lifted while crews made repairs to the pipe, and they will have to be repaired at a later time, he said.

The intersection was closed for much of the weekend after a 36-inch steel main ruptured Friday afternoon, sending thousands of gallons of water  into the neighborhood. The pipe was installed in 1916.

The rupture was one of two that complicated Sunset Boulevard traffic over the weekend. A second rupture off Charing...

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Ventura brush fire 35% contained, no structures damaged

A brush fire that broke out Monday afternoon just north of the city of Ventura is about 35% contained and is under control at less than 50 acres, fire officials said.

Firefighters will be remain on scene overnight and into Tuesday to prevent any flare-ups, authorities said. No structures have been damaged, and there have been no injuries.

More than 150 firefighters were battling the brush fire earlier Monday, which broke out about 1:30 p.m. Some fire units have since been released.

"When we first accessed the fire, it was a one-acre fire running up the hill, and it's since grown to about 50 to 75 acres," said Capt. Mike Lindbery of the Ventura County Fire Department.

Foothill Road between Kimball Road and Saticoy Avenue remain closed "until further notice" because of the blaze. Officials had evacuated Ventura Missionary School, located off Foothill Road, and cautioned earlier Monday that residential structures in the area were threatened.

Southern California Edison power lines were...

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Ex-skating rink employee convicted of child molestation gets probation

A former skate park employee who admitted to inappropriately playing with the feet of about 200 young boys at a Northridge skating rink was sentenced Monday to three years' probation.

Julian Christopher Flores, 19, pleaded no contest in August to three counts of misdemeanor child molestation. As part of his sentence, he must also undergo one year of counseling and register as a sex offender.

Prior to sentencing, the father of one victim was allowed to address Flores. “This is a permanent tattoo that you have to live with for the rest of your life, like the innocence you took away from so many children,” he said.

He called Flores a “monster” who was “getting off easy.”

A letter from the mother of two of Flores’ victims also was read aloud in court. She said her children were still suffering, despite seeing a counselor for six months. They are “overly cautious befriending others in their age group” after being molested by Flores, the mother wrote.

Flores voluntarily went to the LAPD’s...

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Art gallery owner gets five years for 'horrendous' cyberstalking

A federal judge sentenced the owner of a Riverside County art gallery to five years in prison Monday, calling his attempts to extort an art publishing company he had once worked for and its employees by creating disparaging websites and making repeated threats against their loved ones "horrendous."

Jason White, 43, of Temecula, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of federal stalking related to what prosecutors describe as a relentless campaign of fear. U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson called White's actions  “very disturbing.”

White was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 12 in connection with a stalking and extortion scheme that targeted art world professionals with whom he had had business relationships.

When White ended a business relationship, he began posting derogatory information about ex-associates on websites.

Prosecutors said he began to demand money via harassing text messages and emails, going so far as to make threats against relatives of his targets,...

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