The sexual abuse of pupils at Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles fits the pattern of other similar cases: vulnerable children, plied with attention and gifts and groomed to trust adult predators, reports USA Today. At Miramonte, the victims could hardly have been more disadvantaged: The 1,400 students are virtually all from poor Latino homes, a majority from immigrant families where English isn’t spoken at home, and some with parents lacking legal immigrant status. It’s a voiceless community where fear is ingrained — fear of authority, fear of the police, fear of immigration enforcement, fear of retribution.
The hard-pressed barrio school is just the kind of place where an adult with bad intentions could take advantage of a child, knowing there was little chance a victimized family would report the acts. Or if they did, little chance they would be believed. “You have lots of the very poor who don’t even know what their rights are,” says Martha Escutia, a former state senator who once represented the neighborhood. “You have the undercurrent of immigration, undercurrent of poverty. Miramonte is not Malibu. It’s not a sophisticated community. It’s a perfect recipe for a predator.”