UCLA professor of medicine charged with possession and distribution of
A professor at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine was charged with distributing and possessing child pornography, a Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office news release announced Wednesday.
Guido Germano, director of artificial intelligence medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA professor-in-residence, plead not guilty to one felony count of distributing obscene matter and one count of possession of child or youth pornography Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
He is accused of using a peer-to-peer software to distribute child pornography videos and downloading them to his personal computer, according to Deputy District Attorney Angela Brunson of the Cyber Crime Division in the news release.
Germano is still listed on the UCLA campus directory as of Aug. 2. However, he was placed on administrative leave Thursday after the university was made aware of the charges against him, a UCLA spokesperson said.
He was arrested June 19 and released on bond. His arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 1.
Germano faces a potential maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the news release. The case is still under investigation.
State was notified of Child Abuse
allegations more than a year before
Waukegan school employee’s arrest
CHICAGO, IL – More than a year before a Waukegan school employee was charged with sexually abusing a girl for years, state education authorities were notified that he was fired by Chicago Public Schools on allegations of “child abuse,” records obtained by the Lake County News-Sun show.
Gabriel Valadez, 26, of Darien, was hired by Waukegan District 60 in August 2017, six months after he was suspended by Chicago Public Schools, where he was a special education classroom assistant. He was fired from CPS in December 2017 after his suspension the previous February.
A letter obtained from Chicago Public Schools shows the Illinois State Board of Education was notified of his termination the following month, in January 2018. A spokeswoman for the state agency said she could not comment on specific cases, but ISBE records show Valadez’s paraprofessional educators license remains valid.
Defense attorney John Deleon, who is representing Valadez, declined to comment due to the pending charges. He said his client also would not comment.
An internal Chicago Public Schools memo summarizing Valadez’s 2017 termination hearing concluded that he “exhibited all the classic signs of child grooming behavior,” which occurs when an adult attempts to gain the trust of the child, looks for opportunities to be alone with the child and gives gifts or money to the child.
Valadez, who pleaded not guilty earlier this month, was arrested Feb. 19 at Waukegan District 60’s administrative offices by Chicago police officers and charged with grooming and sexually abusing a girl for several years, when she was between the ages of 9 and 13, according to court records.
He is accused of taking the girl’s hand and having her touch him, of groping her bottom and of asking her to send sexually explicit and nude photographs of herself, according to preliminary complaints filed in Cook County court.
Waukegan District 60 has “not received any official communication” from either Chicago Public Schools or the Illinois State Board of Education regarding Valadez and his time at CPS, district spokesman Nick Alajakis said.
A bill approved by the Illinois House and awaiting action in the Illinois Senate would give the State Board of Education the ability to suspend the licenses of educators under investigation, a change that might have helped Waukegan District 60 learn about Valadez’s history sooner.
Valadez joined Chicago Public Schools in May 2014 in office support for the district’s Network 7, according to personnel records obtained from CPS.
Seven months later, in December 2014, he took a job as a special education classroom assistant at Infinity Math, Science and Tech High School in Chicago’s South Lawndale neighborhood, according to personnel records. A year later, he moved to Jungman Elementary School.
It was at Jungman that questions arose about Valadez’s contact with a student.
Valadez was suspended Feb. 16, 2017, after giving a student a chocolate Valentine’s Day present despite being warned verbally and in writing to have no contact with that student, according to a letter from Chicago Public Schools to Valadez.
Valadez was never the student’s teacher, he told an investigator. He said during the 2016-17 school year, one of his assignments included taking another student from one classroom to the science lab, where the girl was also assigned during that period.
Valadez was told not to contact the student following a March 2016 incident where he was speaking to the student outside someone’s house after school until the father came home, according to a November 2017 internal memo.
According to the report, Valadez had been reminded of the no-contact order in September 2016 after staff members saw him playing basketball with the student after school hours. Valadez denied that he had played basketball with the student.
Valadez told Jungman’s principal that he thought it was OK to give the student the chocolates because two other adults were present at the time, according to a redacted copy of the investigative report. The principal said Valadez told her he had been asked by another special education classroom aide to bring the chocolates for the student.
The other employee told the investigator that she never told Valadez to get chocolates for the students, according to the report.
Valadez later told an investigator that he had brought chocolates and red roses to give to staff, and decided to give the chocolates to the student after he realized he had some left over, according to the report. He said the student had followed him into the classroom and he gave the student the chocolates and told her, “Get outta here.”
The student told the investigator that she did not know Valadez was not supposed to talk to her, according to the report. The student said she would often speak to Valadez before and after school, at least once a week, which Valadez denied when interviewed by the investigator.
A union representative who testified on Valadez’s behalf at his termination hearing denied Valadez was engaged in grooming behavior, and said Valadez did not communicate with the student through social media or text messaging.
According to an internal memo, Valadez did not testify at the hearing.
Valadez had previously been investigated in 2015 for alleging staring at student-athletes during practice and making them uncomfortable, for making an inappropriate comment to a former student, and for staring at a student who was in detention, according to the investigative report.
The investigator, who spoke to the students involved as well as staff, found none of the allegations were supported by evidence, according to the report.
Termination and notification
Following the Feb. 16, 2017, suspension by Chicago Public Schools, Valadez was sometimes paid and sometimes unpaid throughout the course of an investigation and subsequent proceedings, CPS records show.
He was fired in December 2017 and placed on the district’s do-not-hire list, according to a letter from the district to Valadez.
A month later, Chicago Public Schools sent a letter to the Illinois State Board of Education, notifying the agency it had “reasonable cause” to believe he had been fired after “committing an intentional act of child abuse.”
By this time, Valadez had already been hired by Waukegan District 60 as an administrative assistant at its district offices, records show. Valadez resigned in February, the week after his arrest.
His application with Waukegan, submitted in July 2017, said he was still employed by Chicago Public Schools and had never been fired, which was all true at that point. On a form completed in August, he denied that he had ever been investigated for misconduct, which was not true.
Valadez wasn’t the district’s first pick, according to text messages sent by Superintendent Theresa Plascencia to a school board member following Valadez’s arrest. Three other applicants, including an internal candidate, received offers but declined the job.
Plascencia did know Valadez from her time at CPS, but she was not involved in his hiring at Waukegan, Alajakis said.
Plascencia was the chief of Network 7 from November 2013 to August 2015 when she took a new role with CPS as executive director for high school design, programs and support. She left CPS in April 2016 prior to the start of the internal investigation into Valadez’s conduct at Jungman.
Notifications like Chicago Public Schools’ letter to ISBE, which are required under state law, can trigger an investigation by the Illinois State Board of Education and ultimately the suspension or revocation of an educator’s license, ISBE spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said.
Matthews, who declined to comment on any particular case, said there is no way to predict how long any single case will take to resolve because each comes with its own set of circumstances.
Valadez still had an active paraprofessional educator license as of Friday, Illinois State Board of Education records show.
ISBE will hold off on an investigation, for example, if the police or Department of Child and Family Services are conducting their own investigations, Matthews said. The amount of time it takes for those investigations and criminal proceedings to conclude “varies significantly.”
That means an educator’s license can remain valid and, if they’ve since moved on to another district, no one there may know they’re under investigation.
ISBE does not have the ability to suspend educators’ licenses while they are being investigated for serious alleged crimes involving physical and sexual abuse, though it would want that authority, ISBE’s general counsel, Stephanie Jones, testified before the General Assembly last year.
A bill that would give ISBE that power passed the Illinois Senate in a 57-0 vote April 11. It is now being considered by the House.
May 2014: Gabriel Valadez joins Chicago Public Schools in Network 7 office support.
December 2014: Valadez takes a special education classroom assistant position at Infinity Math, Science and Tech High School.
December 2015: Valadez moves to Jungman Elementary School.
March 2016: Valadez told to have no contact with a student at Jungman.
February 2017: Valadez was suspended after giving Valentine’s Day chocolates to the student with whom he had been ordered to have no contact.
August 2017: Valadez is hired at Waukegan District 60 as an administrative assistant at its district offices.
December 2017: Valadez is fired from Chicago Public Schools.
January 2018: Chicago Public Schools notifies the Illinois State Board of Education that it fired Valadez over allegations of child abuse.
February 2019: Valadez is arrested at Waukegan District 60’s administrative office on charges of child sexual abuse and grooming. He voluntarily resigns the following week.
Baltimore County substitute teacher
arrested on Child Sex Abuse charges
Baltimore, MD – Baltimore County police charged a substitute teacher with child abuse and sexual assault Tuesday morning.
Police say Scott Thomas McCruden, 31, of Essex had “inappropriate physical and sexual contact” with a 9-year-old girl he was babysitting and tutoring. He was arrested and charged with sex abuse of a minor, third-degree sex offense, fourth-degree sexual contact, and second-degree child abuse of a child in his custody.
Police investigators concluded that he had “inappropriate physical and sexual contact” ranging from “disciplinary” pinching to inappropriate touching and pinching of the girl’s buttocks.
McCruden was employed by Baltimore County Public Schools as a substitute teacher between September 2017 and June 2018, working mainly in schools in eastern Baltimore County. Police and Baltimore County school officials said they do not believe he behaved inappropriately with children while working as a substitute teacher on school property, but are asking parents to speak with their children and notify police if they learn of inappropriate behavior.
McCruden began babysitting and tutoring a 9-year-old girl in September 2017, police said. Her parents ended his employment this past May when their child began to show signs of anxiety and distress at times when he was scheduled to babysit, police said.
McCruden is no longer employed by Baltimore County Public Schools, police said. He was being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center awaiting a bail review hearing.
He did not have an attorney listed in online court records.
Father of boy who civil jury says was sexually assaulted worries that teacher who did it is still near kids
Dallas County, TX – A Dallas civil jury found a teacher sexually assaulted an 11-year-old boy with autism. Now the child’s father is raising concerns about whether the teacher is still around children at the same school.
His son had attended Anderson Private School in Parker County for six weeks when, the civil jury found, Alexander Anderson, now 31, sexually assaulted the boy on an Oct. 31, 2014 field trip to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in Grand Prairie. The teacher, Alexander Anderson, lives with his parents in a nearby home that shares the same address as the school.
The father of the boy is afraid that Anderson may still have “access to kids,” he said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News. The News does not typically identify victims of sexual assault or their families. The boy just turned 15.
The civil jury awarded the boy and his father more than $8 million in December after finding Anderson committed sexual assault and assault against the boy and after finding that Anderson’s parents had defamed the child’s father during a police investigation into the incident.
No criminal charges have been filed and Grand Prairie police closed the investigation. The case was tried in Dallas because Ripley’s is in Dallas County.
William “Rocky” Feemster, an attorney for the Andersons and the school, said Alexander Anderson, his parents and the school say no sexual assault occurred.
“My clients disputed the allegations and continue to do that,” he said. “My clients, especially Alexander Anderson, denied this even occurred.”
Feemster confirmed that Anderson still lives “contiguous” to Anderson Private School. Records show they share the same Fort Worth address on five acres in Parker County. Several buildings are located on the property, including the home where Anderson lives with his parents, who founded and operate the school.
Anderson also worked at the school and the school’s website still says he is on the staff, but Feemster says he stopped working for the school after the jury’s verdict.
Anderson does not have a criminal conviction and a civil jury’s verdict does not require him to register as a sex offender. So there’s nothing to prevent him from living close to a school.
In December, a jury awarded the boy $4,041,250 from Alexander Anderson “for the sexual assault and the assault,” according to court records. The same jury also awarded the father $1.75 million “for the defamation” by William Anderson and $2.5 million “for the defamation” by LeVonna Anderson. William Anderson is Alexander Anderson’s father and LeVonna Anderson is his mother.
The boy is a high functioning autistic child, according to his father. He attended regular classes in public school with the help of an aide until, as the school district grew, the father decided to look elsewhere. He chose Anderson Private School because it presented itself to the boy’s family as a safe environment with highly qualified teachers in a highly supervised environment. There were about 15 students enrolled when the boy attended, his father said.
The field trip
All students leave the school each Friday for “an adventurous experience” and they also take an overnight trip each year, according to the school’s website.
The father of the assault victim chaperoned the 2014 field trip to Ripley’s, which features a wax museum and an exhibit of odd but true events.
During the trip, the father said in an interview, he began to panic when he lost sight of his son.
Grainy, silent surveillance video shows the boy and his father in the lobby. The father walks into an adjacent room to talk to others on the field trip. John Sloan, the family attorney, said the father was asking other adults on the trip whether they were going through the exhibits as a single group or in smaller groups. In the video, the father picks up his belongings and walks back to the lobby.
Only seconds have passed, but his son is no longer in the lobby. Another camera recorded Alexander Anderson walking out of an exhibit and the boy following him back inside the exhibit.
The father said he found his son alone in the gift shop after they’d been separated about 11 minutes. At the time, the father said, he didn’t realize something had happened to his son while they were separated.
“It was during this field trip that Alexander Anderson preyed upon and sexually assaulted” the child, the lawsuit alleged. “Alexander Anderson was familiar with Ripley’s, as the Anderson School had taken field trips there in the past. As a result of his familiarity, Alexander Anderson knew Ripley’s did not have adequate security or adequate staffing in many areas of the premises and there would be ample opportunity to commit his intended sexual assault.”
The lawsuit said Alexander Anderson “took advantage of” the boy’s disability and “lured” him “into an area at Ripley’s where he knew they were alone and away from the group, and sexually assaulted” him.
Later, at home, the father began to worry that something had happened on the field trip. He told The News that his son, “told me later that evening that the teachers at his school were ‘mean.’ He had been super excited about school until then.”
The father phoned the son’s therapist, Sloan said. The therapist later met with the boy and then called the police.
According to medical records from Cook Children’s hospital in Fort Worth, the boy told a nurse specific details about the assault.
He also told the nurse “Alex is bad. I don’t like Anderson school.”
Grand Prairie police began to investigate the case Nov. 4. 2014, but said in a statement that there was not enough evidence to file charges.
“Both insufficient evidence and conflicting evidence hindered prosecution of this case,” the department said in a statement. “Should additional evidence become available, we will immediately re-open the case.”
Sloan said a flawed police investigation prevented a criminal case from moving forward.
“By allowing the adult suspect’s mother to be present during Alexander Anderson’s first and only interrogation, and by allowing her to dominate the interrogation with defamatory statement after defamatory statement about the victim’s father the GPPD investigation was tainted from the beginning,” Sloan said.
Typically, law enforcement investigators interview people separately or with only their attorneys present. When people are interviewed together, officers have a more difficult time determining their individual version of events.
The father said William and LeVonna Anderson told police and others that he was “on drugs” and was “outside using drugs” during the field trip. In the civil trial, the jury awarded part of the $8 million judgment for defamation after finding those allegations to be false.
Grand Prairie police declined to answer questions about whether defamatory statements against the father or interviewing Alexander Anderson and his mother at the same time damaged the investigation.
Feemster, the attorney for the Andersons, said the police investigation went nowhere because Alexander Anderson committed no crime.
The school does not have insurance, Sloan said. The Andersons’ homeowners insurance policy covers defamation, he said, but not money owed to the boy because of the sexual assault.
Earlier this month, the school, the Andersons and their insurance company came to an agreement with the father and his son on how to resolve the case. The agreement could be finalized soon, but the terms are confidential.
Feemster said his clients’ insurance company decided to settle rather than appeal. Both sides, he said, wanted to settle “to get away from each other” and have the case finished.
The News tried to reach the Andersons through the school. A man who answered the school’s phone declined to identify himself or answer questions about the lawsuit.
“It was a frivolous lawsuit. Nothing ever happened. It was done for money,” the man said before hanging up.
The father said he hopes Grand Prairie police carry on with the investigation.
The father said his son’s life will never be the same after the assault, adding that he is worried about other students at the school.
“We hoped to make it so he’s not a teacher anymore,” the father said. His son is “alive but he’s destroyed.”