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Ex-Teacher Strikes Deal in Molestation Case

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A former San Fernando Valley elementary schoolteacher pleaded no contest Tuesday to 15 counts of molesting 10 girls between 1968 and 1996, including two Vietnamese refugees who lived with him.

Paul Alphonse Kreutzer, 63, of Canyon Country, could spend the rest of his life in state prison.

Under a plea deal, Kreutzer would be sentenced to 16 years in prison plus nine consecutive terms of one year to life.

His sentence is complicated because the older crimes are punishable under indeterminate sentencing laws no longer on the books.

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Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Barry A. Taylor set Kreutzer’s sentencing for March 5.

Some of the victims, most now in their 30s, contacted authorities after Kreutzer was arrested by the FBI in March 2000 for downloading child pornography off the Internet.

Others were contacted by members of the FBI’s Sexual Assault Felony Team as part of a broader investigation into the child molestation allegations, Thompson said.

Kreutzer, who was teaching at Liggett Elementary School in Panorama City at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty to the federal charges. He was sentenced last June to 30 months in prison.

“It took a lot of courage for these women to come forward so many years later,” especially after some were rebuffed by school officials nearly three decades earlier, said Deputy Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Andrea Thompson.

“They were willing to testify in open court about these traumatic events,” Thompson said. Some of the girls reported the abuse to school officials in the 1970s, but their allegations were dismissed without investigation.

The principal at Our Lady of Peace Elementary School in North Hills called one victim “a filthy, little lying girl” when she reported being sexually abused by Kreutzer, the victim testified last year at the preliminary hearing.

On Tuesday, dozens of prospective jurors lingered in the hallway for hours as Kreutzer and his lawyer, Rose Reglos, considered whether to accept the plea deal.

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Kreutzer was charged last year with 31 counts of lewd conduct upon a child younger than 14. Sixteen of those counts will be dismissed under the plea agreement.

The ex-teacher has pleaded no contest to at least one count involving each of his victims. But he has not publicly expressed remorse for his actions nor has he admitted molesting any of the girls.

Kreutzer has reserved his right to appeal the constitutionality of his conviction, Reglos said.

He may challenge whether he can be charged with old crimes that usually would have an eight-year statute of limitations, she said.

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He was charged under a state law that allows prosecutors to file cases involving child victims of sexual assaults for up to a year after they are first reported to authorities.

Reglos said Kreutzer initiated the plea with prosecutors Tuesday to spare the two Vietnamese sisters who lived with him as children from having to testify against him at trial.

“The bottom line is he didn’t want to put his daughters through it,” she said. “He loves those girls.”

Kreutzer considers the women his daughters, although he never legally adopted them, Reglos said. The women called him “Daddy.”

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Kreutzer met the Vietnamese family in 1975 through Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church in Montrose and offered to help the children learn English and integrate into the community, one victim testified at the preliminary hearing.

They moved into his La Crescenta apartment for a few years, before settling into a Canyon Country trailer park, where the sexual abuse escalated, she testified.

Kreutzer’s oldest victim, now 44, said she met him in 1968 through a dance group he organized. It met on Saturdays at Holy Redeemer.

The youngest victim is now 15. She was one of his students at Sunland Elementary School in 1996.

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She testified that Kreutzer invited her to his trailer and got her to disrobe while playing “Simon says” at his house.

Kreutzer also taught at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Newhall and Vena Avenue Elementary School in Pacoima. He was dismissed by Los Angeles Unified School District on Nov. 26, 2001.


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