The principal reported the incident to both L.A. Unified and the Los Angeles Police Department, according to police documents. But the records say the girl gave inconsistent accounts. Guevara, who denied the allegation, was never charged with a crime.
Several years later, he was hired full time at the Miramonte Early Education Center near Huntington Park. District administrators knew of the 1995 accusation, but no one informed school leaders, according to an associate principal's 2008 deposition.
In 2002, a 6-year-old accused "Mr. Ricardo" of repeatedly touching her groin during class one day. Guevara was removed from the school and assigned to a district office where he had no access to children, while sheriff's deputies investigated, according to the deposition of Elizabeth Blackwell, the associate principal.
Blackwell supported him during the investigation because she thought he was a good employee, she told sheriff's investigators, according to their 2003 report filed in court.
After initially denying that he had touched the student, Guevara admitted he may have accidentally touched her crotch when several male students jumped on his back, according to the sheriff's report. Detectives forwarded the case to the district attorney's office. But with no witnesses besides the child, who over time mixed up details of what had occurred, prosecutors declined to pursue the case.
Guevara returned to Miramonte to work with children.
His career as a teacher's aide ended only on Nov. 6, 2003, when a Miramonte parent reported that she had seen Guevara reach into the back of a girl's pants on the playground. The report prompted the two other girls to come forward with similar allegations.
In 2005, a jury convicted Guevara of multiple counts of lewd acts with a child.
Blackwell "told me she felt really bad that she allowed [Guevara] to be near the girls," the sheriff's investigator wrote in his report. In deposition testimony, the administrator said she would have supervised Guevara more closely had she known of the allegations dating to 1995.
Teacher gets a memo
Even when they know about sexual abuse complaints, some school leaders rely on police to substantiate them without thoroughly following up themselves.
In 2002, a student reported that Michael McMurray, a fourth-grade teacher at Plainview Avenue Elementary School in Tujunga, had on several occasions forced a girl to sit on his lap and pose for a camera, according to school officials' later depositions and a report of suspected child abuse.
Police arrived on campus to investigate but concluded that "there was nothing there," and recommended that the matter be addressed by administrators, according to the principal's later deposition.
After learning that police had been called, McMurray "fled from the school" in the middle of the day, telling his bosses later that he had had an anxiety attack, according to a police detective's deposition in 2007. School administrators did not report McMurray's behavior to police at the time, the detective said, and officers did not interview the teacher.
Principal Pamela Worden and her vice principal gave McMurray a memo telling him not to make videotapes, according to her 2007 deposition. Worden testified that she never asked to see the contents of McMurray's camera "because the idea that it would be improper photos didn't occur to us."
Through a district spokeswoman, Worden declined to comment for this story, citing pending litigation
Two years later, during class, McMurray wrote a note to a fourth-grader on a Post-it, according to police documents.
"Are you comfortable with me putting my hand on your knee?" he asked. He drew two boxes for her to check: "Yes" or "No."