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LA teacher arrested for alleged sex with students

February 23, 2012
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MONTEBELLO, Calif.—A female high school Spanish teacher in Los Angeles was arrested after two male students said they had sex with her, police said Thursday.

Gabriela Cortez, 42, of Montebello, was arrested late Wednesday on suspicion of two felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, said Montebello police Lt. Luis Lopez.

Cortez was arrested after an 18-year-old youth went to the police station last week and reported that he had a sexual relationship with her from 2008 to 2010 while he was a student at Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles, where Cortez taught Spanish, Lopez said.

During the interview with detectives, another student was mentioned. That student later told detectives that he also had sexual relations with Cortez at her home in Montebello, a suburb of Los Angeles east of downtown, Lopez said. Both youths have since graduated.

The first student came forward because his conscience was bothering him, Lopez said.

Cortez, whose arrest was first reported by KTTV-TV, was released on $140,000 bail and placed on administrative leave from her job. She could not be reached for comment. She is scheduled to appear in court on March 22.

The arrest was the seventh involving allegations of sexual misconduct between students and Los Angeles Unified School District teachers and school employees in the past month.

The uptick in arrests comes in the wake of a particularly egregious case of alleged sexual abuse of students at a South Los Angeles elementary school that roiled the district last month. The arrest of former third-grade teacher Mark Berndt, 61, who was charged with 23 counts of lewdness for allegedly feeding children his semen on cookies, blindfolding and gagging them as he took pictures, spurred a flood of reports of other cases to law enforcement.

One resulted in the arrest of a second teacher at the same school on a charge of fondling a second-grader.

The scandal has since expanded with the discovery this week that the district failed to report Berndt and another former teacher, George Hernandez, charged with molesting children to the California Teacher Credentialing Commission.

District Superintendent John Deasy has ordered officials to comb through the past four years of cases of teachers charged with misconduct to ensure they have all been reported to the commission.

In the Hernandez case, he was later hired by the Inglewood Unified School District after the commission showed he had a clean disciplinary record. He is now charged with sexually assaulting a student there and is believed to have fled to Mexico.

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