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Educator Could Face Lewd Conduct Charge

Los Angeles County prosecutors said Tuesday that they will consider whether to file a lewd conduct charge against the superintendent of the Eastside Union School District in the Antelope Valley following his arrest in a Lancaster park restroom last week.

Robert W. Wakeling, 51, of Lancaster was arrested last Wednesday afternoon after a sheriff’s vice deputy observed him allegedly masturbating in the men’s restroom. Wakeling, superintendent of the Eastside district since 1988, was booked and released from the sheriff’s station in Lancaster.

The Board of Trustees of the three-school, 1,700-student district met in emergency session Friday and placed Wakeling on paid medical leave from his $70,000-a-year job through Dec. 31. Willard Ritchie, president of the school board, said Wakeling will use accrued sick time.

Wakeling could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Ritchie said Wakeling gave him no explanation for the arrest in phone conversations Thursday and Friday.

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The misdemeanor charge carries a potential penalty of up to six months in County Jail and a $1,000 fine, Deputy Dist. Atty. Joe Payne said. Prosecutors have until Wakeling’s scheduled Sept. 23 appearance in Antelope Valley Municipal Court to decide whether to file charges since he is not in custody.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Denham said Wakeling was arrested about 5:45 p.m. last Wednesday in the men’s restroom at Jane Reynolds Park, where undercover vice deputies were investigating a complaint of men soliciting and engaging in lewd acts.


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