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IRVINE : Teacher’s Aide Held in Molestation Probe

A 27-year-old teacher’s aide was arrested Thursday on suspicion of lewd conduct involving a 14-year-old boy at Venado Middle School, police said.

Raymond Novella of Orange was arrested at the offices of the Orange County Department of Education in Costa Mesa, where he is employed as an aide in a program for hearing-impaired students. The program is based at Venado school.

Police began an investigation after the student complained to school officials that he had been molested by the aide in the school bathroom, Irvine Lt. Vic Thies said. The boy is not impaired and was enrolled in regular classes.

Thies said Novella was arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct with a child and penetration by a foreign object. Both offenses are felonies, he said.

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Novella began working for the Department of Education in December, 1987, earning $10 to $13 an hour, and has always been assigned to Venado, officials said.

Richard Nagle, the department’s personnel director, said that he was not aware of any previous complaints involving Novella.

He said that disciplinary action will be deferred until the police investigation is completed.

Jerry Reyl, a spokesman for the Irvine Unified School District, said the district’s psychologists were available to counsel the boy.

“It really depends on the parents,” Reyl said. “If they are interested in our involvement, then I’m sure we’ll be happy to provide it. But the parents need to determine the level of need. If we can assist, we certainly would.”

Novella was taken to Orange County Jail on Thursday afternoon. Bail was set at $25,000. His arraignment is tentatively set for Tuesday.


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