School district knew of alleged teacher abuse 3 years before arrest

School district knew of alleged teacher abuse 3 years before arrest
Former George De La Torre Jr. Elementary fourth-grade teacher Robert Pimentel, left, with attorney Richard Knickerbocker, center, is arraigned in Judge James Otto's courtroom at Los Angeles County Superior Court in Long Beach. (Jeff Gritchen / Associated Press)

Los Angeles school district officials knew of sexual misconduct allegations in 2009 against a teacher at a Wilmington campus who was arrested more than three years later, the district's top administrator confirmed Tuesday.

The teacher, Robert Pimentel, 57, was arrested in January. Some of the charges result from alleged conduct at De La Torre Elementary that occurred well after senior administrators apparently became aware of concerns raised by parents in 2009.


L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy said an internal investigation is ongoing into whether allegations were handled properly. Four administrators were placed on paid leave April 19 pending the outcome.

But a newly disclosed document, apparently prepared within the L.A. Unified School District, indicates that parents had concerns about the teacher inappropriately touching students. "The parents reported that he caresses the girls, gives them candy and photographs them without parent permission," the report said.

It was released by attorney Luis Carrillo, who has dozens of clients suing the school system over sexual misconduct at several schools, including Miramonte Elementary.

Pimentel has pleaded not guilty to sexual misconduct charges involving 12 children under the age of 14 and remains in jail in lieu of $12-million bail. Fourteen felony counts involve alleged abuses between September 2011 and mid-March 2012. Two additional counts date to earlier years.

Carrillo said the document came from sources outside of the school system. L.A. Unified, he alleged, has refused to provide materials relevant to the case.

Deasy had no comment on the document itself, which has the word "confidential" typed across the top. Its letterhead is the "Office of Human Relations, Diversity and Equity" within "School Operations."

The superintendent said he learned in detail about prior allegations against Pimentel in the weeks following the teacher's arrest. Deasy previously had singled out former De La Torre Principal Irene L. Hinojosa as apparently not reporting allegations against Pimentel in 2002 and 2008.

On Tuesday, Deasy offered more details about what happened in 2009, when a district mediator tried to ease tensions between the principal and parents. At that time, complaints about Pimentel went beyond the principal and were recorded at higher levels, Deasy said.

In February, "I personally went to the Los Angeles Police Department with these documents," he said. "Anybody I know of that had awareness of the issue or possible awareness of the issue is being investigated."

The four administrators on leave are: Linda Del Cueto, who was most recently the senior instructional leader in the San Fernando Valley; Mike Romero, head of the adult education division; David Kooper, principal at Gulf Elementary in Wilmington; and Valerie Moses, principal at Los Angeles Elementary in Harvard Heights.