A jury late last year ordered the Los Angeles Unified School District to pay nearly $1.6 million to the families of three girls molested by Ricardo Guevara, a former teacher who is now serving 15 years in prison for lewd acts with a child. But there was something the jury — and the public — was never told: This was the third set of accusations that Guevara had molested students, reports the L.A. Times. Twice before, when law enforcement officials had decided they lacked the evidence to win a criminal conviction, school officials had quietly put him back in the classroom.
Guevara’s case fits a pattern: The district repeatedly failed to follow up on sexual misconduct complaints against employees once police or prosecutors dropped criminal actions. Some ended up at new schools. In at least one instance — involving Guevara — the new principal had no idea of his history. In three other cases documented by The Times, the employee went on to be charged with or convicted of molesting another student. Until about a year ago there was no centralized system for tracking employees accused of child molestation or other serious crimes from school to school. The district relied on index cards that were supposed to be placed in an employee’s file to indicate an accusation had been made. But even that didn’t always happen.