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School Band Leader in Molestation Case Dismissed by Board

February 04, 1988|CARLOS LOZANO | Times Staff Writer

Gary Lawrence Lee, the Kraemer Junior High School bandleader who pleaded no contest to a charge that he molested a 14-year-old female student, has been fired by the Placentia Unified School District Board of Education.

Lee has 30 days to appeal the decision to the board, which would then conduct an administrative hearing. Lee could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Tim VanEck, assistant superintendent of personnel, said the board voted unanimously in closed session Monday to dismiss Lee. He said that under the Education Code, "we are obligated to take action for dismissal."

Lee, who has taught music at Kraemer Junior High since 1975, was suspended without pay in October after he was accused of molesting the girl, one of his former students, between September, 1986, and March, 1987. He was charged with six felony counts of lewd conduct with a child and one felony count of unlawful penetration with a foreign object.

Faced with a maximum sentence of 20 years, Lee, 35, pleaded no contest Friday to one count of committing a lewd act with a child in exchange for possible probation. One of the conditions of the plea is that Lee must register with the police as a sex offender.

Under a no contest plea, a defendant is not admitting guilt but stating that he or she will not offer a defense. The person can still be punished as if he or she had pleaded guilty. The advantage in pleading no contest is that the defendant has the option of denying the same charge in another legal proceeding.

Six Other Counts

The other six counts against Lee are expected to be dismissed at a Feb. 11 hearing in Superior Court.

County Deputy Dist. Atty. Gregg Prickett said he agreed to accept the plea so that the victim would not have to testify. However, Prickett said he had enough physical evidence to convict Lee on all seven counts.

Walt Taylor, staff counsel to the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing, declined to comment on whether Lee would be stripped of his teaching license. He said the commission's Committee on Credentials would review the case only after all court proceedings are completed.

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