By ASSOCIATED PRESS PUBLISHED: 01:05 EST, 24 January 2013 | UPDATED: 01:05 EST, 24 January 2013
- Robert Pimental, 57, is facing eight counts of continual sexual abuse and seven counts of lewd acts upon a child
- The abuse took place at George De La Torre Jr. Elementary in Los Angeles
- Case comes after teacher at nearby school was arrested for allegedly forcing students to eat cookies with his semen on top
- Mark Berndt, 61, was arrested a year ago and pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct
A California elementary school teacher has been arrested for allegedly sexually abusing 20 students and one adult. Robert Pimental, 57, is facing eight counts of continual sexual abuse and seven counts of lewd acts upon a child for abuse that took place at George De La Torre Jr. Elementary in Los Angeles. In addition to the 15 felonies, misdemeanor charges are expected, LA Police Department Officer Christopher No said.
The former teacher is being held on $12 million bail, and an arraignment date hasn’t been set. Pimental left his fourth-grade teaching position in March at the onset of the investigation. When officials learned of the allegations earlier this year they immediately removed him from campus and parents and state credentialing authorities were informed, school district spokesman Daryl Strickland said.
Parents and guardians will be told of the arrest by letter and phone, he said. Pimental has worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District since 1974.
George De La Torre Jr. Elementary is located at 500 North Island Ave. in Wilmington, a largely Latino Los Angeles Harbor Area neighborhood with about 50,000 residents. The school opened in 2006 and has about 800 students. Pimental’s case follows a number of high-profile incidences of Los Angeles teachers accused of sexually abusing students. More than 225 parents and students are involved in various claims for damages against the district after Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt was arrested a year ago and pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct. Berndt is accused of feeding his students his semen on cookies and photographing them in classroom ‘tasting games.’ The children were aged 6 to 10. In December, a jury ordered the district to pay a boy molested by an elementary school teacher $6.9 million – among the largest awards in the history of the school system. The jury found the district liable for the repeated molestation of the 10-year-old student in 2008 and 2009 by teacher Forrest Stobbe at Queen Anne Elementary School in the city’s mid-Wilshire district.