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HUNTINGTON PARK : Teacher Enters Plea of Not Guilty in Sex Case

January 23, 1994|JENNIFER OLDHAM

A Huntington Park High School French teacher has pleaded not guilty to charges that he engaged in sexual activity with a 16-year-old student.

Faud Aqleh, 55, is scheduled to appear in North Orange County Criminal Court on Feb. 14 for a preliminary hearing on two felony counts of unlawful sex with a minor and oral copulation of a person younger than 18.

According to Jo Escobar, Orange County filing deputy district attorney, Aqleh admitted having sex with the student.

Aqleh's attorney, David Penner, refused to comment on that assertion.

The student's name is being withheld because of her age and the nature of the offense, said Lt. Stephen Peeler of the Huntington Park Police Department's detective bureau.

An investigation into the alleged incident was launched in late October after school administrators notified detectives that Aqleh was suspected of engaging in sexual activity with the student, Peeler said.

Administrators said their suspicions were raised by rumors circulating in the school.

Police said Aqleh befriended the sophomore, who is a former student of his, and took her on trips to Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Universal Studios and Knott's Berry Farm.

Authorities allege that Aqleh, who is married, engaged in consensual sex with the student following one of these outings, Peeler said.

The district attorney's office filed charges against Aqleh in late November after receiving results of the Huntington Park police investigation, Peeler said. Aqleh, a Huntington Beach resident, then turned himself in to the court in early December.

The charges against Aqleh could be reduced to misdemeanors pending the results of an investigation into his background by the probation department, Escobar said, adding that Aqleh has cooperated with authorities. Aqleh was released on his own recognizance, Penner said.

If the charges are not reduced, Aqleh faces up to three years in state prison and a $1,000 fine for unlawful sex with a minor, and three years, eight months and a $10,000 fine on the oral copulation charge.

Aqleh, who had taught French at Huntington Park High School for six years, retired from his position after he was placed on administrative leave by Los Angeles Unified School District officials following his surrender, said Walt Green, director of employee relations.

Aqleh has had his teaching credential revoked pending the outcome of the preliminary hearing, Green said.

If acquitted, Aqleh will have 39 months to request a return to the district, but officials will also have the opportunity to determine whether they wish to rehire him, Green said.

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