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High school teacher accused of inappropriately taking photographs of female students

High school teacher accused of inappropriately taking photographs of female students
Christian Axelgard, a physical education teacher at Clark Magnet High School in La Crescenta, is accused by Glendale police of taking inappropriate photographs of students around campus. He was placed on leave by Glendale Unified officials in November. (Glendale News-Press)

A Clark Magnet High School teacher may have to register as a sex offender and have his teaching credential revoked if he’s found guilty of inappropriately taking alleged voyeuristic photographs of female students.

Christian Axelgard, 60, was arrested and charged in January with two misdemeanor counts of unlawfully annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18. Authorities said the physical-education teacher would allegedly take the photos using his cellphone at the La Crescenta campus.

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No photographs were taken with hidden cameras or inside the girls’ locker room, according to Sgt. Dan Suttles, a spokesman for the Glendale Police Department.

“It was during class, while [students] were participating in sports activities or just a girl walking in the hallway,” he said. “It was whenever he felt there was an opportunity to take a picture of a girl.”

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Suttles added the teacher appeared to have never taken nude photographs or physically touched the students.

Axelgard would reportedly use the photographs for his own personal sexual gratification, according to Suttles.

If convicted, Axelgard would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. His teaching credential would also be automatically revoked.

It’s unknown how long he had been photographing students, but Suttles said Axelgard became so overt that some students began to notice him doing it, prompting them to inform school administrators sometime in November.

Kristine Nam, a spokeswoman for the Glendale Unified School District, said he has been on paid administrative leave since the incidents were reported.

“We are proud of our students who were responsible and brave in bringing their concerns to the attention of caring staff, and we are confident that our procedures worked for reporting and dealing with suspicious activity,” Nam later added in a prepared statement.

Axelgard isn’t expected to return to teaching because his retirement at the end of the current academic year was announced during a Glendale Unified school board meeting on March 12.

He is scheduled to appear in court on April 3 for an arraignment hearing.

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