A former fourth-grade teacher at Wilmington's George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School accused of sexually assaulting 12 children worked for more than six years as an AYSO youth soccer coach for the Newport Mesa region, but league officials said today there were no reports of abuse against any players Robert Pimentel, 57, coached.
When asked by Patch on Thursday if Newport Beach Police were investigating any local allegations of abuse, a department spokeswoman said, "No." However on Friday, the Daily Pilot quoted a spokeswoman for Orange County District Attorney saying Newport police had investigated four allegations of sexual abuse against Pimentel dating back to 2005, but charges were never filed, and he continued to teach grade school.
According to the Daily Pilot, "Ultimately, though, "insufficient evidence, lack of corroboration, problems with the availability of witnesses and other evidentiary issues," led the OCDA not to file charges," said Orange County D.A., Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder. According to the Daily Pilot, the district attorney's office has said at least one charge will likely be filed involving allegations of abuse involving a Newport Beach victim.
American Youth Soccer Organization officials said Pimentel volunteered with the group from August 2005 to March 2012, when he was suspended in response to the school abuse allegations.
``We are unaware of any allegations of abuse by Mr. Pimentel against any youth player associated with AYSO, but we are, nonetheless, encouraging our players' parents to contact authorities directly if they believe that they have any relevant information that may assist in the investigation,'' according to an AYSO statement.
Pimentel, who was arrested Wednesday, pleaded not guilty Thursday to eight counts of continuous sexual abuse and seven counts of lewd acts upon a child, for alleged assaults of 12 children under age 14. Police said he is suspected of assaulting as many as 20 children and one adult.
Los Angeles Unified School District officials said Pimentel was removed from the classroom in March 2012 at the onset of the investigation. The district tried to fire him, but Pimentel retired, ensuring that he will receive his district pension.
Pimentel's attorney, Richard Knickerbocker, told reporters Thursday his client was innocent, and suggested some alleged victims had concocted their stories.
``Before this, (Pimentel) has had a pretty exemplary life,'' the attorney said. ``He has no arrest record for anything. ... He's raised a family. He's been a soccer coach. He's been a whole lot of things, been very good. He's received awards. He is, as far as we're concerned, an outstanding teacher.''
On Monday, former state Sen. Martha Escutia is scheduled to hold a news conference demanding an investigation into what she considers a pattern of abuse against Latino students in the LAUSD. She said the investigation should examine whether known abusers were intentionally assigned to schools in lower-income, Latino neighborhoods.
- City News Service