UPDATED: Former South El Monte, Arcadia Catholic school music teacher accused of molesting student in 2003, 2004

Detectives suspect a former Catholic school music teacher and choir director of molesting a female student 12 years ago while working at a South El Monte Catholic school, officials said.
Investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Bureau jailed Elohim D’Leon, 43, of El Monte Thursday afternoon on suspicion of 10 counts of committing lewd acts on a child younger than 14 years old, according to sheriff’s officials county booking records.
D’Leon, who more recently worked at Holy Angels school and parish in Arcadia from 2004 to 2013, is accused of committing the crimes in the 2003-04 school year while working as a music teacher at Epiphany Catholic School in South El Monte, Holy Angels school and sheriff’s officials said.
“The girl was a fifth grader. He was her music teacher,” Detective Michael Silva said.
“There was inappropriate touching that would occur after school,” Silva said. “These incidents would occur in a classroom.”
Silva said the victim, who is now an adult, first reported the crimes in early February, triggering an investigation.
D’Leon also served as the choir director for the Epiphany school and parish “and has had some involvement in other music activities in the Archdiocese over the years,” Holy Angels school Principal Ted Carroll and Holy Angels parish Pastor Michael Evans said in an email sent to parents
The suspect worked at Epiphany school and parish from 2001 to 2004.
In addition to D’Leon’s work at Epiphany and Holy Angels, he “provided music for some liturgies and regional events in the Archdiocese,” Archdiocese of Los Angeles spokeswoman Monica Valencia said.
It was not clear how or why is employment with the Archdiocese ended in 2013.
“Law enforcement has advised that he has no prior criminal record and that they are not aware at this time of any misconduct with any other minors, but their investigation is ongoing,” the statement said. “The Archdiocese and Holy Angels continue to cooperate with authorities in their investigation. We express our gratitude to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department for making this case a priority.”
Holy Angels officials could not be reached for direct comment Saturday.
Holy Angels and sheriff’s officials ask anyone with information to contact Detective Silva at the Sheriff’s Special Victim’s Bureau at 877-710-5273. Archdiocese of Los Angeles Coordinator of Victims Assistance Ministry Suzanne Healy also is available at 213-637-7650.
“We also ask that you keep everyone impacted by this sad situation in your thoughts and prayers,” the emailed statement said.
D’Leon was being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in Pomona Superior Court, records show.

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Pasadena man accused of unlawful sex with minor

PASADENA >> Police arrested a 19-year-old Pasadena man Friday on suspicion of having sex with a 15-year-old girl, officials said.
Orlin Lopez Alvarenga was booked on suspicion of unlawful sex with a minor about 9:25 p.m., Los Angeles County booking records show.
Police went to the suspect’s home in response to a tip received by county officials Friday afternoon regarding possible child molestation, Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
Officers determined that Alvarenga had had sex with the girl and arrested him, the lieutenant said.
He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, records show.

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UPDATED: Female Covina Valley Unified School District teachers accused of sex with students

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WEST COVINA >> Deputies arrested two Covina Valley Unified School District teachers on Saturday on suspicion of having sexual relationships with students, officials said.
South Hills High School teacher Melody Lippert, 38, of Covina and Michelle Ghirelli, 30, who was working on special assignment at the district office, are accused of engaging in sexual conduct with male students during two separate trips to San Clemente State Beach late last year, according to Orange County sheriff’s and CVUSD officials.
Records indicate Ghirelli served as a girls’ junior varsity softball coach at South Hills High School in 2010 through 2012.
Their arrests came just 10 days after police in West Covina arrested South Hills High School part-time girls’ wrestling coach Anthony Vidales, 29, of Covina on suspicion of having sex with a female student on Jan. 7. Police disclosed Vidales’ arrest Tuesday.
0119_NWS_SGT-L-WCTEACHERS2The alleged inappropriate conduct by the women began in November, when Lippert met a group of male students at San Clemente State Beach in Orange County, sheriff’s officials said.
• SOCIAL MEDIA: What students think of the Covina teachers’ arrest
“During the meeting at San Clemente State Beach, Lippert provided alcohol to students and engaged in a sexual relationship with one of them,” according to the sheriff’s department statement.
“Several weeks later, Lippert orchestrated an overnight camping trip to the same location with Ghirelli and several of the same high school students,” the statement continued. “During the camping trip, Lippert and Ghirelli are suspected of engaging in sexual relations with two students.”
The student Lippert was allegedly involved with was 18 or older, Orange County sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Hallock said. Ghirelli’s alleged victim was under 18.
The camping trips took place over the Thanksgiving and Winter holidays and was not sponsored by the school or the Covina Valley Unified School District, CVUSD spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden said.
District officials were in the process of placing both teachers on administrative leave Sunday, she said. Parents were notified of the arrests by a recorded telephone message.
Lippert, an English teacher at South Hills High School, has worked for the school district for 15 years, Van Der Linden said. Ghirelli has been with the district for five years.
Van Der Linden said she had no information regarding any previous assignments the teachers may have had in the district prior to their current positions.
“We’re obviously taking it very, very seriously,” Van Der Linden said. She encouraged anyone with information to contact sheriff’s investigators.
“We’re gong to have additional counselors available Tuesday for students and staff,” Van Der Linden said.
Orange County sheriff’s officials began investigating the women on the evening late Friday after West Covina police notified them of the alleged sexual misconduct in their jurisdiction, officials said.
The allegations came to light when a fellow teacher reported the alleged inappropriate relationships to district officials, Van Der Linden said.
“No additional information about the alleged sexual relationships or the student victims is being released,” according the sheriff’s department statement.
Neither woman could be reached by telephone for comment Sunday.
Social media exploded with comments about the latest scandal at South Hills High School, many from students and alumni of South Hills High School. Comments ranges from apparent concern to jokes and sarcasm.
“Headlining every news channel, go south hills,” Twitter user @_toricazarez posted on the social network.
“South hills is a joke now,” Twitter user @ChrisCjmartin posted.
Others posted about their shock in learning of the arrests.
“Mrs. Lippert would never do this? she’s a sweet person and very loving,” Twitter user @ellieeamayaa wrote.
“my prayers go out mrs lippert and mrs ghirelli.!” user @victor92999 posted on Twitter.
Officials booked Lippert on suspicion of conspiracy and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Ghirelli was booked on suspicion of oral copulation and unlawful sex with a minor.
According to Orange County booking records, Lippert posted $20,000 bail and was released from custody Sunday pending her initial court appearance. Ghirelli was freed on $50,000 bail.
No additional incidents or victims were known to investigators Sunday, Hallock said.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at 714-647-7000. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-847-6227.

PHOTOS: Top – Melody Lippert, 38, of Covina; Below – Michelle Ghirelli, 30, of Covina. (Courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

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Former Monterey Park elementary school special education teacher sentenced for molesting four students

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ALHAMBRA >> A former Monterey Park special education teacher convicted of molesting four students received a 16-year prison sentence Friday, authorities said.
Ex-Repetto Elementary School teacher Jose Jesus Mosqueda, 45, of Los Angeles, was sentenced by Alhambra Superior Court Judge Jared Moses, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
He pleaded guilty in July to three counts of committing lewd acts on a child and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, she said.
“The defendant sexually molested special education students in fourth grade between 2008 and 2011,” Ardalani said in a written statement.
Some of the molestations took place during class time, according to attorney’s representing the victims in pending civil lawsuits against the Alhambra Unified School District.
Mosqueda was first arrested in October of 2011 after a students reported her teacher had sexually assaulted her, according to Ardalani.
Mosqueda posted bail and was released from jail before a second girl came forward and made similar allegations, officials. Police re-arrested Mosqueda.
While still behind bars for the second time, a fourth special education student reported being molested by Mosqueda, Ardalani said.
After initially pleading not guilty to eight felony charges, Mosqueda accepted a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to four of the charges July 29, Ardalani said. Additional charges of child molestation and dissuading a witness were dropped under the “negotiated plea.”
Mosqueda was ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Ardalani said. He was scheduled to appear at a restitution hearing Dec. 4.
He passed a state-mandated background check when he was hired by the AUSD five years prior to his arrest, district officials said shortly after his arrest.
Mosqueda was placed on compulsory leave once the allegations first emerged.
His employment was expected to be terminated upon conviction, however AUSD officials could not be reached for comment Friday.
Two additional criminal cases alleging sexual misconduct by AUSD personnel are pending, along with civil claims filed against the district by the parents of Mosqueda’s victims.
Another AUSD teacher is awaiting trial on accusations of carrying on a seven-year-long sexual relationship with a former student.
Garfield Elementary School teacher Jeffrey Yoshitake, 43, is charged with five counts of committing lewd acts on a child for carrying on a sexual relationship with a teenage formers student.
Yoshitake was arrested in February, district attorney’s officials said. Prosecutors allege he began a sexual relationship in April of 2005 with a then-15-year-old former student, who was in high school at the time.
The tenured teacher, who first joined AUSD as a substitute teacher in 1996, has denied the charges.
Yoshitake has been released from custody on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in Alhambra Superior Court Sept. 23 for a preliminary hearing setting, according to booking records.
Yoshitake was also placed on leave at the outset of the investigation.
Meanwhile, former Alhambra High School assistant principal Andrea Cardosa, 40, is awaiting trial in Riverside County on 16 counts of child molestation that allegedly took place while she worked with the Riverside Unified School District and the Val Verde Unified School District in years past.
Cardosa resigned from her position in January after on of her two alleged victims posted a YouTube video in which Cardosa appears to admit having a sexual relationship with the now-adult woman when she was a in middle school and high school between 1997 and 2001.
A second woman came forward days later to report she was also victimized by Cardosa when she was a high school student in 2009 or 2010, officials said.
Cardosa, who is being held in lieu of $5 million bail, is scheduled to appear in Riverside Superior Court Oct. 22 for a felony settlement conference, court records show.

PHOTO of Jose Mosqueda courtesy of the Monterey Park Police Department.

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Covina man accused of series of assaults, sexual batteries against women

An 18-year-old Covina man accused of attacking and groping five women, including a pregnant women, in the unincorporated county area near Covina since late 2012 is behind bars and awaiting trial, authorities announced Thursday.
0627_NWS_SGT-L-SANDOVALAlex Lorenzo Sandoval pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Pomona Superior Court to multiple counts of assault and sexual battery, Los Angeles County Superior Court officials said.
Deputies arrested him June 20 in connection with a series of five attacks on women dating back to December of 2012, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Andy Berg said in a written statement. Some of the charges were filed in juvenile court, as the alleged offenses occurred prior to Sandoval’s 18th birthday.
“During subsequent interviews, Sandoval admitted to committing all of these acts and wrote a letter of apology,” Berg said.
Sandoval’s arrest came after the victim of his most recent allege attack on April 11, 2014, spotted her previous assailant following her in the 21100 block of Nubia Street, Berg said. She called sheriff’s deputies, who found and arrested Sandoval at an apartment complex in the 21000 block of Arrow Highway.
In the attack two months prior, Sandoval approached the 47-year-old woman from behind, covered her mouth and groped her buttocks, Berg said.
A similar unprovoked attack took place April 14, 2013, in the area of Cienega Avenue and Treanor Street, sheriff’s officials said.
“A man approached her from behind, pushed her into a wall and tot he ground and kicked her while she was on the ground,” Berg said. The 30-year-old woman was five months pregnant at the time of the assault.
Another woman, 29, was attacked in the same area on Feb. 25, 2013, he said. In that case, an attacker approached her from behind, covered her mouth, pushed her into a wall and fondled her. He fled when a passing driver honked a car horn.
Women also reported strikingly similar attacks on Jan. 25, 2013, and Dec. 20, 2012, at the same apartment complex in the 21000 block of Arrow Highway. Both women were in their 20s.
0627_NWS_SGT-L-SANDOVALsketchA sketch of the serial groper was released by sheriff’s deputies in April of 2013 following the first four incidents. Sandoval was interviewed as a potential suspect, however none of the victims were able to identify him from a photographic line-up, and no arrest was made, Berg said. “Female detectives walked the area in hopes of luring the suspect, to no avail.”
Sandoval was scheduled to return to Pomona Superior Court July 17 for a preliminary hearing setting, court officials said.
He was being held without bail.

PHOTO/SKETCH courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Elderly woman sexually assaulted at Pasadena assisted living facility

PASADENA — Police are seeking a predator who sexually assaulted in a 90-year-old woman at a Pasadena assisted living facility, authorities said Friday.
Little information was released about the crime as detectives continued their investigation, Pasadena police Lt. Vasken Gourdikian said.
The “significant sexual assault” took place in recent weeks at an assisted living home in Pasadena, though the lieutenant declined to say exactly when or where the crime occurred citing the ongoing investigation and search for the perpetrator.
Police were notified of the alleged attack Thursday morning via a third party, Gourdikian added.
No further information was available Friday.

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Pasadena yoga instructor convicted of sexual batteries under guise of ‘healing sessions’

PASADENA — A jury convicted a Pasadena yoga studio owner and instructor Wednesday of sexually assaulting three women under the guise of so-called “private healing sessions,” city officials announced Thursday.
A Pasadena Superior Court jury convicted Naader Shagagi, 56, of four counts of sexual battery by fraudulent representation, city officials said in a written statement.
Shagagi, the proprietor of the Yoga Kingdom Sanctuary, 553 S. Lake Ave., was ordered to return to court for sentencing Dec. 5, officials said. He faces up to four years behind bars, and will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
“The City Attorney’s Office will recommend the maximum penalty,” Pasadena spokeswoman William Boyer said.
A total of six counts were initially filed, he said. The jury hung on two additional sexual battery charges against Naader.
The assaults took place during “so called private ‘healing’ sessions,” according to the city statement. “Evidence provided by Deputy City Prosecutor Joon Kim showed the victims were told that his intimate touching would help ‘heal’ the victims.”
“Other fraudulent representations that the defendant made to the victims included that he was ‘healer’ who had cured others of breast cancer and that he was a ‘messenger of the gods’ who could communicate with gods,” according to the statement. “The victims were convinced to participate in multiple private ‘healing’ sessions with Shagagi during which he repeatedly groped and touched them.”
The victims were all described as young women, Boyer said. The assaults took place in 2012, however a more specific time frame was not available Thursday.
We are grateful that the jury has sent a strong message that sex crimes will not be tolerated, Pasadena City Attorney Michele Beal Bagneris said.
She also called upon any additional victims who have not yet made themselves known to come forward.
“If other victims step forward, our office will pursue these matters and seek justice for the victims,” she said.
Bagneris encouraged all sexual assault victims to report the crimes to police.

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Physician assistant from La Mirada who worked in El Monte, Anaheim accused of molesting patient

1024_NWS_SGT-L-CLINICMOLESTOfficials sought the public’s help this week in finding potential additional victims of a physicians assistant who worked in El Monte and Anaheim and is accused of molesting a patient under the guise of a medical examination.
Rocael Gomez, 48, of La Mirada was arrested Oct. 8 and charged the same day with sexual penetration by a foreign object of an unconscious victim and sexual battery by fraud, Orange County District Attorney’s officials said.
The alleged crime took place Jan. 4 at the Anaheim Market Clinic in Anaheim, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement issued Tuesday. At the time, he was also working at the Bansuan Medical Clinic in El Monte.
The victim, a 51-year-old woman, was being examined for back pain when Gomez allegedly molested her, prosecutors said.
“He is accused of sexually touching the victim under the guise that his actions served a legitimate professional purpose,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Officials said the victim reported the incident the same day it occurred.
Gomez, who was out of custody on $250,000 bail, was scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 12 in Orange County Superior Court.
If convicted as charged, Gomez faces up to nine years in prison and would be required to register as a sex offender for life, officials said.
Anyone with information, or anyone who believed they may have been victimized by the defendant is asked to contact Supervising District Attorney Investigator Paul Carvo at 714-347-8794.

PHOTO of Rocael Gomez courtesy of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

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Former teacher at Cal High in South Whittier sentenced for sexual relationship with student

A former California High School history teacher and junior varsity basketball coach received a 90-day jail sentence Thursday after admitting a sexual relationship with a former student, who was 17 at the time, officials said.
John Gilbert Orellano, 37, pleaded “no contest” to a felony charge of unlawful sexual intercourse in late July, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said. The plea was made as part of a plea agreement in which an addition charge of unlawful sexual intercourse, as well as two counts of oral copulation with a minor, were dismissed.
As expected under the plea agreement, Orellano was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years of probation at his sentencing in Norwalk Superior Court, court officials said. He will not be required to register as a sex offender.
Orellano, who has been free since posting $240,000 bail three days after his arrest on May 15, was immediately taken into custody to begin serving his sentence, according to county booking records.
Authorities began investigating Orellano in March after learning of allegations that he had sent sexually explicit text messages to a 17-year-old female student at California High School, in an unincorporated county area south of Whittier, according to Sgt. Nancy Drake of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau.
As the investigation progressed, detectives learned that Orellano and the student had sex in February, prosecutors said.
Orellano was immediately placed on leave once the allegations came to light, and he resigned from his position two days later, officials said. He has worked for the Whittier Union High School District for two years.

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Officials announce arrest of alleged Norwalk predator pastor

Jorge CastroSheriff’s officials Thursday announced the arrest of a Norwalk associate pastor accused of molesting as many as 20 female church members over the past eight years.
Jorge Juan Castro, 54, of Norwalk is charged with six felony counts in connection with the alleged sexual assaults of four women between ages 18 and 39 while he worked as an associate pastor and counselor at Las Buenas Nuevas Church, 11910 Alondra Boulevard, Sgt. Al Garcia of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Bureau said.
The alleged crimes took place between 2004 and 2012, sheriff’s officials said in a statement.
He was placed on leave in April, immediately after 20 women came forward to report to a church official that they had been sexually assaulted by Castro, Garcia said.
“Multiple victims reported the sexual abuse to a church official, who in turn, reported it to us,” the sergeant said.
But only four of the women were willing to speak with detectives as of Thursday, Garcia said.
Castro’s alleged victims were primarily Spanish-speaking, undocumented immigrants, the sergeant said.  He was believed to have threatened them not to come forward.
“The suspect, after the assaults, threatened to have the them deported,” Garcia said. “He also threatened to subject them to public ridicule.”
Castro also worked as an associate pastor at an affiliated church, the Oasis Community Church in Moreno Valley, Garcia said. Authorities in Moreno Valley have been notified of the situation, however no victims from Riverside County have been identified, Garcia said.
After more than five months of investigation, deputies served an arrest warrant and took Castro without incident Sept. 13 at his Norwalk home, Garcia said.
Prosecutors charged him the same day with one count of rape, four counts of oral copulation by force and one count of sexual penetration by a foreign object, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Shiara Davila-Morales. The charges involve two victims, and the charged crimes occurred in January of 2004 and April of 2010.
“The criminal complaint includes a special allegation of multiple victims and states that the defendant committed the offenses by use of force, violence, duress, menace and fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury,” Davila-Morales said.
Castro started working for the Las Buenas Nuevas church in Norwalk shortly after immigrating to the U.S. from Argentina in 2004, Garcia said.
Garcia said Castro took advantage of his position of authority to sexually assault the women. Some of the alleged attacks took place as he visited the women.
“Some crimes occurred at the church, some crimes occurred at the victims’ homes,” Garcia said.
Detective encouraged the 16 other alleged victims already identified, as well as any others who may not have come forward, to cooperate with investigators to bring Castro to justice.
“We’re here to tell the victims, and other potential victims, that law enforcement is here to help them. We will not report (them to) immigration. We’re not going to deport them.” Garcia said. “We want to help them deal with these heinous crimes and prevent him from doing it again.”
Garcia said Castro had no criminal history in the United States that investigators were aware of, however he did not know if he had a record in Argentina.
Castro was initially scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior Court for an arraignment the day of his arrest, however the hearing was continued to Oct. 16, Davila-Morales said.
According to county booking records, Castro was being held in lieu of $2 million bail.

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