Whittier chiropractor sentenced for patient molestations


BELLFLOWER >> A judge sentenced a Whittier chiropractor Friday after he was convicted last week of molesting three of his patients, authorities said.
Steven Patrick Lowry, 32, of Whittier pleaded “no contest” Oct. 8 to three counts of misdemeanor sexual battery, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. The crimes occurred both at his home and at the officer where he worked in the Whittwood Town Center.
A Bellflower Superior Court judge sentenced Lowry to 120 days in jail and three years of probation, Ardalani said. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and take a year of sexual compulsion classes.
Whittier police arrested Lowry in March after two female patients reported he had touched them inappropriately during treatments, police said at the time.
Lowry was released on $40,000 bail pending his legal proceedings, records show.
Three additional women soon came forward and made similar allegations, resulting in a total of five counts of sexual battery being filed against Lowry.
Under a negotiated plea, the two remaining counts were dismissed, Ardalani said.
Lowry’s chirpractic license has been suspended since June, records show.

PHOTO of Steven Lowry courtesy of the Whittier Police Department.

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Ex-South Pasadena High School track coach sentenced for molestation

ALHAMBRA >> A former South Pasadena High School track coach will avoid time behind bars after pleading no contest to charges of molesting a 16-year-old student, officials said Friday.
Pierre Jonas Hernandez, 33, pleaded “no contest” to misdemeanor charges of child molestation and sexual battery during his trial last week, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
Alhambra Superior Court Judge Jon Takasugi sentenced Hernandez Friday to 180 days in jail, to be served by electronic monitoring, five years of summary probation and 30 days of community service, Ardalani said.
Additionally, Hernandez was ordered to register as a sex offender for life, attend 52 seeks of sexual compulsion classes and not contact any of his alleged victim for 10 years.
“According to testimony at trial, a 16-year-old female student came forward in April 2014 and said Hernandez gave her a massage behind a locked door,” Ardalani said. “The massage included inappropriately touching the victim by reaching under her shorts and touching the victim’s buttocks.”
At least one more students made similar allegations once the investigation began, South Pasadena police Detective Mike Palmieri said, but additional charges were not filed as the statue of limitations had expired.
Hernandez had served as track coach at South Pasadena High School for about seven years, police added.

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El Monte middle school teacher accused of lewd acts with minors

EL MONTE >> Police arrested an El Monte middle school teacher on suspicion of inappropriate behavior with female students last week, officials confirmed Wednesday.
Police arrested Marcos Miguel Bowers, 45, of Covina Friday on suspicion of committing lewd acts with four underage victims, according to El Monte police officials and Los Angeles County booking records. He posted $100,000 bail and was released from custody three hours later.
The arrest came at the end of a month-long investigation that began April 2, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said in a written statement. Police were notified that Bowers had been involved in “inappropriate physical contact” with a juvenile, Luna said. Bowers was placed on leave at the outset of the investigation.
“The investigation continued, which resulted in the identification of three additional victims,” Luna said. Police described the alleged victims all as juveniles under the age of 17. But the specific ages and genders of the students were not released Wednesday, nor was information regarding whether the alleged victims were students.
Bowers taught math and science teacher at Kranz Intermediate School, according to the school’s website.
Mountain VIew School District officials could not be reached for comment late Wednesday, nor could Bowers.
Bowers was scheduled to appear for arraignment July 9 in Pomona Superior Court, officials said.

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Traweek Middle School chaperone accused of molesting girl during Catalina trip

WEST COVINA>>A Traweek Middle School chaperone, who is the son of a local teachers’ union employee, has been arrested on suspicion of molesting a 14-year-old girl on a trip to Catalina Island over the weekend, sheriff’s officials said Wednesday .
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies on the island arrested Brendan Richard Ramos, 21, early Sunday morning on suspicion of sexual battery, false imprisonment, annoying or molesting a child and child endangerment, according to officials and booking records.
He posted $500,000 bond later the same day and was released from custody pending his initial court appearance, sheriff’s Detective John Hatfield
Few details regarding the allegations were available.
Deputies arrested Ramos at a Toyon Bay campground where students from Traweek Middle School were taking part in a weekend excursion to learn about marine biology, Hatfield said.
Ramos is the son of Michelle Ramos, who serves as contract specialist for the Covina Valley Education Association. She declined to comment Wednesday.
Covina Valley Unified School District officials could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
Sunday’s arrest is the latest incident in an alleged string of alleged wrongdoing in the District, ranging from accusations of financial mismanagement to other alleged incidents of inappropriate contact between school staff and students.
Former district employee Michelle Ghirelli, 30, and South Hills High School teacher Melody Lippert, 38, are awaiting trial on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor following a beach party in which students were allegedly provided with cocaine, and Ghirelli allegedly slept with a 17-year-old student, authorities said.
Former part-time South Hills High School girls’ wrestling coach Anthony Vidales, 30, is also awaiting trial on allegations of unlawful sex with a 17-year-old girl he coached, as well as possession of child pornography.

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El Monte Kung Fu instructor accused of molesting underage students

EL MONTE >> An El Monte Kung Fu instructor is accused of molesting three students at his Valley Boulevard studio, police said.
Police arrested Derick Lee, 49, of Temple City, Thursday on suspicion of child molestation, child annoyance and false imprisonment, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said late Friday in a written statement.
The investigation into the Kung Fu instructor began early Thursday morning, Luna said.
“El Monte Police Officers received information that a local martial arts instructor from the Elite Kung Fu Training Academy, 10423 Valley Blvd., El Monte, had inappropriate physical contact with a juvenile,” Luna said.
Detectives identified Lee as the suspect in the alleged molestation.
“A follow-up investigation resulted in the identification of two additional victims,” the sergeant said. “All of the assaults were committed against current and former students of Elite Kung Fu Academy and the assaults occurred inside of the business.”
The crimes occurred over the past year, Luna said. Police withheld the genders of the alleged victims, described only as under 17 years old.
Messages seeking comment left with the martial arts school via phone and email were not returned Saturday.
According to the martial arts studios’ website, Lee began instructing Kung Du in 2004, “with only a handful of students practicing at local parks and Sifu Lee’s own home.” Sifu is a respectful Chinese term used to described martial arts instructors.
Lee opened DLee’s Martial Arts in Temple City in 2006 before moving to El Monte in 2012 and renaming the academy Elite Kung Fu, according to the website.
Lee was being held in lieu of $550,000 bail pending his initial court appearance, scheduled Monday in El Monte Superior Court, county booking records show.
Detectives sought any potential additional victims, and anyone with information regarding the case is asked to contact El Monte police at 626-580-2114.

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Montebello doctor sentenced for molesting patients

MONTEBELLO >> A judge sentenced a Montebello doctor to five years in prison Friday for sexually molesting four female patients in his care, officials said.
Arturo Vargas, 44, pleaded “no contest” Friday to two counts of felony sexual battery, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
A jury convicted Vargas in February of two counts of sexual exploitation by a physician for molesting two additional patients, but acquitted him of seven charges involving four other alleged victims, officials said. The Los Angeles Superior Court jury failed to reach verdicts on more than a dozen additional charges.
Vargas entered Friday’s “no contest” pleas during what was scheduled to be a pretrial hearing on the remaining charges.
In addition to being sentenced to five years in state prison, Judge Curtis Rappe also ordered Vargas to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Montebello police first arrested Vargas in Jan. 2012 after a woman reported being molested by him at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices on Towne Center Drive, authorities said. Seven additional women subsequently came forward and made similar allegations of molestation at the Baldwin Park facility, as well as at other medical facilities in Los Angeles County.

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La Puente man convicted of molesting two girls

LA PUENTE >> A La Puente man faces up to 120 years to life in prison after a jury convicted him Thursday of molesting two young female relatives over the coarse of eight years, officials said.
The Pomona Superior Court jury deliberated for less than three hours before finding Mark Christopher Acosta, 45, guilty of eight felony counts related to child molestation, as well as a count of continuous sexual abuse of a child, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
He is scheduled to return to court for sentencing April 7, she said. He faces a maximum sentence of 120 years to life in state prison.
Acosta sexually abused two female relatives over different time periods between 2001 and 2009, Ardalani said.
“The first victim revealed the abuse to an adult in 2007, but the adult did not believe her,” Ardalani said.
“In 2013, the second victim came forward about being sexually assaulted,” she said. “As a result, the first victim also alerted authorities to the abuse she suffered.”
Investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau arrested Acosta in February of 2014, according to county booking records. He had been held in lieu of $6 million bail pending the trial process.

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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


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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