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Regional Report: Orange County, CA School Negligent Supervision & Sexual Abuse Allegations

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The team of legal professionals at Estey Bomberger is dedicated to helping sexual abuse victims and their families in Orange County. From our offices in San Diego, we have represented victims of molestation and abuse throughout the country. We assure every client that the abuse was not their fault, and treat every client with the compassion and respect they deserve. If you are interested in pursuing legal action against a perpetrator or their employing school district, we are here to help.

Estey Bomberger reviews and monitors news stories and reports of crime and lawsuits involving public and private schools nationwide. The following reports are for schools located in Orange County, CA. If your child has been sexually abused or negligently supervised and you would like more information about your options or rights in a civil suit, contact us for a free consultation.

  • alisoviejomiddleschoolALISO VIEJO MIDDLE SCHOOL (ALISO VIEJO)
    111 Park Ave, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
    Paul Ewell, 34, of Rancho Santa Margarita, an algebra and geometry teacher to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, was arrested in September 2008 after a year-long investigation found he had sexually harassed a 14-year-old student during the 2006-07 school year. Ewell was removed from the classroom on August 13, 2007, and fired on September 9, 2008 after district commissioners found his conduct “weird, stupid, creepy, sick, unjustifiable, extremely disturbing, completely inappropriate and beyond the bounds of professionalism.” News Sources: OC Register, LA Times
  • breaolindahighschoolBREA OLINDA HIGH SCHOOL (BREA)
    789 Wildcat Way, Brea, CA 92821
    Michelle Lynn Johnson, a 46-year-old math teacher at Brea Olinda High School, was arrested in June 2013 on suspicion of having sex with a student. The arrest happened at Johnson’s Anaheim home after a parent became suspicious of the relationship between Johnson and their son and contacted the Brea Police Department. The sexual assaults occurred between April and June 2013 on and off the campus. In May 2014, Johnson, who was previously named teacher of the year for the Brea Olinda High School in 2009, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of oral copulation of a minor and two felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse. She was sentenced to 270 days in jail, five years of formal probation and must register as a sex offender while on probation. News Sources: OC Register, LA Times
  • cvhsCAPISTRANO VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL (MISSION VIEJO)
    26301 Via Escolar, Mission Viejo, CA 92692
    Aaron Edwin Westbrook, 26, of Irvine, who worked at Capistrano High School as a social science teacher and also an assistant girls’ volleyball and surf team coach, was arrested in December 2008 and accused of having consensual sex with an unnamed underage female student at his home. The incident was reported to a teacher by a friend of the alleged victim. In July 2009, Westbrook pleaded guilty to the court to three felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, two felony counts of oral copulation of a minor, two felony counts of administering a controlled substance to enable a felony, three misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and three misdemeanor counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor. Westbrook was sentenced to 240 days in jail and three years of formal probation. News Source: The Capistrano Dispatch
  • lagunahillshighschoolLAGUNA HILLS HIGH SCHOOL (LAGUNA HILLS)
    25401 Paseo De Valencia, Laguna Hills, CA 92653
    David Araya, a 57-year-old Spanish teacher at Laguna Hills High School, was arrested in December 2010 and charged with luring a child with intent to commit a crime, oral copulation of a minor and unlawful sexual intercourse, and two misdemeanor counts of molesting a minor. Araya taught at Laguna Hills for 10 years before retiring following an investigation into a sexual relationship with one of his students. The alleged sexual relationship began in August 2009 and was discovered when the child’s mother found inappropriate Facebook messages between Araya and her daughter, which alluded to some inappropriate behavior. In October 2011, Araya was sentenced to one year in jail and three years probation, and required to register as a sex offender for life. News Sources: OC Weekly, CBS Local
  • magnoliahighschoolMAGNOLIA HIGH SCHOOL (ANAHEIM)
    2450 West Ball Road, Anaheim, CA 92804
    Judy Lee, 39, of Brea, a music teacher at Magnolia High School, was arrested in July 2012 after deputies in a patrol car spotted her engaging in “sexual misconduct” with a recently graduated student. The teacher and student had allegedly been in a secret relationship since the previous November. Prior to the arrest, she had been a teacher at Magnolia High School for eight years. She was married to a pastor and had four children. News Source: NBC Los Angeles
  • nicolasjuniorhighNICOLAS JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL (FULLERTON)
    1100 West Olive Avenue, Fullerton, CA 92833
    Melissa Lindgren, 28, of La Mirada, an 8th grade teacher at Nicolas Junior High School, was arrested in February 2014 after two students came forward to a school counselor and claimed that she had molested them and sent sexually explicit text messages. A civil lawsuit was filed December 30, 2014 in Orange County Superior Court, which alleged that school officials failed to investigate multiple complaints about inappropriate behavior by Lindgren. News Sources: NBC Los Angeles, OC Register
  • Oxford_Academy_800OXFORD ACADEMY (CYPRESS)
    5172 Orange Avenue, Cypress, CA 90630
    Christopher John Ontiveros, 42, of Huntington Beach, a AP European and U.S. History teacher at Oxford Academy, was arrested in October 2009 and charged with sexual assault, sexual battery (groping), sexual communication with a minor, grooming a minor, and child annoyance. News Sources: After a 10-day trial in June 2011, Ontiveros was acquitted of all counts. According to a report, prosecutors weren’t able to overcome a theory advanced by Ontiveros’ attorney that the girl had sent the text to herself using a computer, to create the appearance that they had come from Ontiveros. Ontiveros was repaid $229,881 in lost income during his unpaid leave, and the state teacher licensing board cleared him to return to the classroom in August 2011. News Sources: OC Register, OC Register (Update)
  • SANTA ANA HIGH SCHOOL (SANTA ANA)
    520 W Walnut St, Santa Ana, CA 92701
    Alvar Albert Gonzalez, 45, a science teacher at Santa Ana High School since 2001, was taken into custody in September 2015 on suspicion of unlawful sex with a student. In 2014, Gonzalez allegedly kissed a second female student, and was placed on administrative leave when the Santa Ana Unified School District became aware of the incident in December.The case is currently pending. News Source: OC Register
  • SAVANNA HIGH SCHOOL (ANAHEIM)
    301 N. Gilbert St., Anaheim, CA 92801
    Marc Alan Silberman, 27, of Anaheim, a substitute teacher at Savana High School, was arrested in October 2009 on allegations that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old student and inappropriately grabbed a second student after handing her inappropriate notes while teaching. He was charged with one felony count of a sexual act with a minor and one misdemeanor count of child annoyance News Sources: OC Register
  • SERVITE HIGH SCHOOL (ANAHEIM)
    1952 West La Palma Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92801
    Zachary Reeder, 30, a history teacher at Servite High School, an all-male Catholic High School in Anaheim, was arrested in February 2013 on charges of possession and distribution of child pornography, lewd conduct with a child, and child annoyance. According to police between June 1, 2010 and January 14, 2013, Reeder created and used a Facebook account and posted as a female high school student using a photo of a blonde-haired girl. He established inappropriate online relationships with 106 underage boys from Servite, Beckman, Northwood, and Canyon High Schools. Many of the boys he knew from coaching or teaching. Reeder was a married father and also also was an assistant baseball coach for four seasons at Beckman High School in Irvine. He plead guilty in January 2014 to four felony counts of distributing pornography to a minor, two felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14, two felony counts of contacting a child with the intent to commit a lewd act, one felony count each of using a minor for sex acts, lewd act upon a child, possession and control of child pornography, and distribution of child pornography. Reeder was immediately sentenced to 10 years in prison and required to register as a sex offender for life. News Sources: ABC 7 News, OC Weekly
  • talbertmiddleschoolTALBERT MIDDLE SCHOOL (HUNTINGTON BEACH)
    9101 Brabham Dr, Huntington Beach, CA 92646
    Daniel Duane Axtell, 36, of Santa Ana, a teacher at Talbert Middle School, was arrested on May 42007, after having having sex with a 14-year-old in rented motel rooms and in his car from April to June of 2005. He was charged with six counts of lewd acts with a child age 14, one count of sexual penetration with an object on a person younger than 16, and one count of first-degree burglary. In April 2009, Axtell was sentenced to four years in prison. News Source: OC Register, USA Today
  • VALDEZ MIDDLE SCHOOL (PLACENTIA)
    161 East La Jolla Street, Placentia, CA 92870
    Christopher Millette, 36, a seventh-grade science teacher at Valdez Middle School, was arrested December 31, 2014, on charges of sexually molesting a girl. The victim, who was under 10 years old, was not a relative and not student of his. was charged with one felony count of oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child 10 years or younger and two felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14, as well as a sentencing enhancement allegation for substantial sexual conduct with a child. News Source: KTLA
  • VALENCIA HIGH SCHOOL (PLACENTIA)
    500 Bradford Avenue, Placentia, CA 92870
    Rebecca Eileen Diebolt, 35, a language arts teacher and swim and water polo coach at Valencia High School, was arrested in June 2014, for forming a sexual relationship with a student that started in 2004, when the victim was 15. The relationship carried on from high school until the victim was in college, in 2008. At the time of her 2014 arrest, Diebolt was pregnant with her third child. News Source: NBC Los Angeles, OC Weekly
  • villaparkVILLA PARK HIGH SCHOOL (VILLA PARK)
    18042 East Taft Avenue, Villa Park, CA 92861
    Dwayne Richardson, 20, of Fullerton, a walk-on girls basketball coach at Villa Park High School, was arrested in February 2015 and booked on suspicion of sexual misconduct with two high school aged girls. One of the victims was a student at Villa Park High School and the other was a student at El Dorado High School in Placentia. According to a news report, the sexual misconduct began in June of 2014. News Source: ABC 7

 

  • WOODBURY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (GARDEN GROVE)
    11362 Woodbury Rd, Garden Grove, CA 92843
    Christopher Micah Brazelton, 39,  former grade-school teacher at Woodbury Elementary School,  was sentenced in August 2013 eight years in prison for molesting one girl as she read in class and grabbing another as she shopped for school supplies in Walmart. Police arrested Brazelton at a Santa Ana Walmart in October 2008. Witnesses who chased him down and held him until officers arrived said he had grabbed the buttocks of a 12-year-old girl who was shopping in the school-supplies aisle. Brazelton will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.At the time of his 2008 arrest, Brazelton was working as a first-grade teacher at Woodbury Elementary School in Garden Grove but he had worked at other Garden Grove schools. Five former students later came forward to tell police that he had rubbed their legs or touched their private parts, sometimes as he sat next to them to help with their schoolwork. The youngest victim was 6 years old when she said Brazelton pulled a chair next to her as she sat at a reading table and touched her through her clothes. He told her she would be grounded and would not be allowed to play outside if she told anyone, according to court records. Brazelton pleaded not guilty to six felony counts of a lewd or lascivious act with a minor. A jury found him guilty on two of those counts, for grabbing the girl in Walmart and touching the 6-year-old girl at school. News Source: OC Register

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