The state’s case against Virgil Cleon Harper went to a Jury Wednesday after both sides presented closing arguments.
Harper, a substitute teacher in Azusa, is accused of nine counts of sexual molestation involving youngsters in his classroom.
Our reporter Bethania Palma attended Wednesday’s court session and interviewed Harper. These excerpts are from her story:
Deputy District Attorney Miji Vellakkatel<NO1>cq <NO>told the jury there was solid evidence Harper touched the 9-and-10-year-old boys and girls in a sexual manner.
“The truth lies in the evidence,” he said. “He touched a total of 17 body parts that are sexual in nature.
The fourth graders had stated Harper touched genital areas, rear ends, breasts and thighs, Vellakkatel said.
Defense attorney Victor Salerno said the accusations were false and added they resulted from peer pressure and a “snowball effect.”
Harper said he had been a teacher and substitute teacher for years in various settings, including high schools and colleges. At one point he taught at Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.
He also worked as an adjunct professor at APU and served on the city’s architectural barriers commission.
Harper said he began teaching at grade schools about a year ago so he could get more hours.
He said if cleared of charges, he would not teach children again “unless there are cameras or another adult present.”
This from staff and wire reports:
LOS ANGELES — An Altadena man made his first court appearance today on
charges that he molested two 9-year-old girls, including one of his students,
while he was working as a teacher about 20 years ago.
Mark Walter Sonnenburg, 53, is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 20 on three
felony counts filed last Friday involving the two alleged victims, according to
Sandi Gibbons of the District Attorney’s Office.
One of the girls was a student at Eagle Rock Montessori School,
where he taught at the time, Gibbons said.
He had more recently taught at The Walden School in Pasadena where he worked until March, according to a statement released by that
“We have determined that these allegations do not involve any former or current
student from our school and are based on a time more than two decades ago,”
Walden School’s statement says. “Prior to learning of the allegations, the
school never received any information, complaint or allegation of this kind
involving Mr. Sonnenburg — before or during his tenure at the school.”
The Walden School said it had been contacted by authorities during the last
school year, had been fully cooperating with the investigation and conducted
its own independent investigation.
Sonnenburg was arrested last Friday by officers from the Los Angeles Police
Department’s Northeast Division. He has remained jailed since then in lieu of
El Monte police are investigation allegations that a custodian at a local elementaty school inappropriately touched a young girl in late April.
The unidientified custodian is now on paid administrative leave as police continue to investigate, according to school district officials.
Here’s an excerpt from a story running in tommorrow’s paper:
EL MONTE — A custodian at a local elementary school is currently on paid administrative leave as police investigate allegations that he inappropriately touched a student earlier this year, police and school district officials said.
The alleged incident occurred April 25 at La Primaria Elementary School, 4220 Gilman Road, said El Monte police Detective Ernie Cramer.
The name of the custodian, a man in his 60s, was not released, he said. He has not been arrested.
The investigation involves “inappropriate touching above the clothes,” said Cramer.
A girl in the 3rd grade came forward and told school officials that the custodian had touched her inappropriately earlier in the day, Cramer said.
School officials immediately contacted the girl’s parents and the El Monte Police Department, he said.
Mountain View School District Director of Special Projects Alan Morier said it’s district procedure to place any employee being investigated by police on paid administrative leave.
Cleon V. Harper, 65, of Azusa was picked up by Azusa PD on suspicion of 10 counts of child molestation.
Harper was a substitute teacher for a fourth-grade class at WR Powell Elementary School. Children complained to their parents after sitting in Harper’s class.
The arrest was the culmination of a week-long investigation by Azusa authorities.
This guy may have been a professor at APU, according to a cursory records search.
Here’s comments from Rate My Professor.
A V. Cleon Harper is also listed as a city commissioner on Azusa’s website Architectural Barriers Commission.
Another guy who shares the name sits on the board of a group known as “Stepping Stones for Women“ The Motto of the group: “Providing handles of hope to single mothers and their children.”
This comes from the Monrovia City Rumor Control Web page: Except it contains an error or two:
A 16-year-old was wounded in a driveby shooting in County territory on Sunday, January 13. The shooting was in front of his home on Peck Road, not at a school.
A Canyon High School student was killed and another teen wounded in another shooting incident January 26, also on Peck Road.
A suspect has been arrested in the Jan. 13 shooting. Monrovia Police have also arrested two gang members as suspects in a shooting that took place on Cypress Avenue.
Investigations are continuing and arrests are being made as the recent flare-up of gang violence continues throughout the region.
Crime Scene responds.
When he was shot on Jan. 13, Day Day was bicycling just outside the grounds of Calvary Church and within a block or two of the Catholic School. CLARIFIED 13:25:52 1-30-08
Sammantha Salas, who was killed on Jan. 26, attended Alhambra High School as was reported here yesterday and confirmed by district officials there. No arrest has been made in the shooting of Salas.
At least he wasn’t dressed in a clown suit.
An update on this from Pasadena Star-News court reporter Molly R. Okeon:
ALHAMBRA A 42-year-old Fullerton man accused of inappropriately touching five girls during a San Gabriel elementary school assembly Monday was charged Friday with five felony counts of lewd acts on a child.
Daniel Roy Smith was scheduled to be arraigned in court late Friday afternoon, said Los Angeles County District Attorneys Office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons. Smith is being held on $500,000 bail.
Gibbons said she believes Smith is facing a maximum of 16 years in prison, if convicted.
Smith, an outside vendor hired by Washington Elementary School to give an astronomy presentation, was arrested Wednesday amidst the allegations, which allegedly occurred while teachers and parents were present but went undetected because of the large crowd of students watching the planetarium exhibit, school district officials have said.
A parolee who is suspected of molesting his stepdaughter in the parking lot of a Pasadena clinic appeared in court Wednesday. Laughing at the charges against him, the molester, who is not identified, is apparently a very large man.
Yesterday we reported that the encounter was videotaped. Today we can report that several local television stations are asking for a copy of that tape.
How sick is that?