A South-Central Los Angeles schoolteacher was arrested Monday and charged with molesting two of his female fifth-grade pupils.
Chester Williams, 38, of Palms, a teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District since 1982, is accused of fondling the breasts and buttocks of two girls through their clothing in separate incidents last February and March at 75th Street School, the city attorney's office said.
One of the victims, age 9, was molested after Williams offered to give her special coaching for the pep squad, while the other, age 10, was fondled while she was in the classroom to receive special tutoring in reading, according to Deputy City Atty. Vanessa E. Place.
Place said she does not believe any other children observed the alleged incidents. Williams has taught at the school since 1984.
The investigation began last March after the 10-year-old victim complained to her guardian, who in turn reported the allegations to police, Place said.
The district attorney's office investigated the case for seven months but referred it to the city attorney's office in December after concluding there was insufficient evidence to charge Williams with a felony, Deputy Dist. Atty. Gregory J. Denton said.
During the investigation, police learned that Williams got some of his students to pose for pictures after telling them he ran a modeling business for young girls, Place said.
Williams, who was reassigned to administrative duties when the allegations were made, was arrested at his office. School district spokeswoman Eva Hain said he has been placed on unpaid mandatory leave pending resolution of the case.
He was charged with two counts of misdemeanor child molestation, each of which carries a maximum one-year jail sentence, a $1,000 fine or both, and two counts of battery, punishable by six months in jail, a $2,000 fine or both.
Williams is the second Los Angeles public schoolteacher within a week to be charged with child molestation. Simon Diaz, 44, a teacher at the Gates Street Elementary School in Lincoln Heights, pleaded not guilty on Jan. 5 to felony charges of lewd conduct with six female pupils. He faces a Feb. 16 preliminary hearing in Los Angeles Municipal Court.