On Monday, a former Telfair Elementary teacher pleaded no contest to molesting seven girl and six boy students, all aged between 8-9 years. Deputy Dist. Atty. Elena Abramson said, “Some of them were students in his class and others he met outside the classroom in breaks or after school.” Two of the victims filed lawsuits against the school district mentioning Paul Chapel III, the teacher, kissed the children and fondled their genitals. Court documents allege the school district ignored repeated complaints about Chapel and allowed him to return to work despite several red flags in his career history.
Previous records about Chapel show that he had been compelled to leave a private school after allegedly making inappropriate remarks during a sex education class. In another case in 1997, it was basically his word against that of a child, and he was tried but not convicted. In that case, a 8-year old neighbor sleeping over with Chapel’s son woke up to find Paul Chapel III fondling him, broke free, and ran home. The jury stressed on physical evidence, and the boy floundered in dismay. Following the case, the district alerted the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing, Chapel’s credential was suspended, and the school district suspended Chapel without pay from Anadsol Avenue Elementary, it was all erased when the eight year old boy failed to convince the court of Chapel’s guilt.
Personal files of Chapel, held at L.A. Unified, has no record whatsoever of the incident, and his records are also incomplete, and without a criminal conviction of an essentially off-campus event, Chapel returned to tending children at elementary schools, with back pay.
However, this time around, prosecutors charged Chapel last fall with molesting four students. But, the thing remained under wraps and parents at the school were not informed, until the media began to probe the school district about such cases following two teachers at Miramonte school being accused of molesting children. Shaken by the media probe, the school district fired Chapel in March. Prosecutors followed up in May with charges of molestation of another nine students.
Some of the students appeared at the San Fernando Superior Court on Monday, ready to testify, but Chapel pleaded no-contest.