Arrested Lincoln Middle School teacher in molestation case was investigated two years ago.
By Laura Tate / Editor
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office says five more possible victims of the Lincoln Middle School teacher accused of allegedly molesting students have stepped forward. Officials say the alleged abuse occurred possibly as far back as 1998.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that Oscar De La Torre, president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, said the school board only learned this week of an investigation about a complaint regarding Beltran’s conduct with a student two years ago.
The school district issued a press release Wednesday disclosing that Beltran, arrested Saturday for allegedly molesting five female students at the school, was investigated two years ago for inappropriately touching a female student. Officials say Beltran was investigated, but there was not evidence then to charge the teacher of any crime.
“There was a lack of evidence at the time to file charges,” Jane Robison, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office told the Los Angeles Times. “But based on new allegations, new victims and more evidence, sufficient evidence was developed to include the previous alleged victim” in this case.
Beltran was arraigned in court Tuesday and charged with 14 felony counts of sexual molestation, including eight counts of a lewd act on a child, three counts of continuous sexual abuse and three counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object on a child under 14.
Then-principal of Lincoln, Kathy Scott, who reported the complaint two years ago to the Santa Monica Police Department, is no longer with the school district.
“There was a transition in leadership, and I think the communication [channels] suffered a breakdown,” De la Torre told the Los Angeles Times. “The school board was never alerted to the allegations in 2006.”
The superintendent of the SMMUSD at the time, John Deasy, left the district in 2006.
Along with Wednesday’s press release, the district included a letter dated March 14, 2006 that Scott wrote addressed to Detective Lloyd Gladden of the Santa Monica Police Department.
In the letter Scott wrote that a student informed the school’s assistant principal that she “felt uncomfortable being in Mr. Tom Beltran’s class because of the way he touched her.”
Scott further wrote that the student “wrote a statement that is attached to this report describing what she experienced.”
Scott then explained that the response to the student’s complaint was to remove her from Beltran’s class and to “talk to Mr. Beltran about his physical contact with students.”
The principal wrote in her letter that she met with Beltran on March 15, 2006 and informed him of the student’s complaint.
“Mr. Beltran was shocked at the accusation,” Scott wrote, and was upset that his actions had been interpreted as inappropriate. I instructed Mr. Beltran to not touch any of the female students in his classroom in order to protect himself from any further misinterpretation. Mr. Beltran was in total agreement with my request.”
District and school officials meet with parents and educators Monday to address their concerns. However, parents are lashing out at the lack of information given about the situation.
Former Malibu resident Karl Preston Rumburg, whose 12-year-old daughter attends Lincoln, blasted school officials in a letter she sent to parents and to this newspaper.
“First let me say how very disappointed and extremely angry I am with how Lincoln has handled this situation, past and present …,” Rumburg wrote. “The meeting yesterday was a joke. No apology was made. No one accepted any responsibility. No new information was given. Lincoln parents were not allowed to speak directly with those who should be held accountable for the system (or lack thereof) breaking down.
“No real solutions were put forward. No explanations were given how 4 … now 5 … probably 35 by the end of the week … of our innocent children were irreparably harmed by this monster.”