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Solicitation Case Against Ex-Valley School Official Dismissed

October 16, 2003|Stuart Pfeifer | Times Staff Writer

A judge has dismissed a misdemeanor prostitution solicitation charge filed against the former athletic director of a Woodland Hills high school, authorities said Wednesday.

Los Angeles police officers arrested David Siedelman in May after they said he solicited sex from an undercover police officer posing as an employee of a Tarzana massage parlor. Siedelman, who had been arrested on suspicion of a similar offense in 1993, was reassigned from his job as athletic director at El Camino Real High School after his May arrest.

The case was scheduled to go to trial last week in the Van Nuys courthouse, but Superior Court Judge Frank J. Johnson dismissed the case because the prosecution did not have a key witness -- the officer whom Siedelman allegedly solicited -- in the courtroom and available to testify.

"We had the undercover officer on call to appear in court within two hours. The decision was made not to wait, and the case was dropped over the city attorney's objections," said Eric Moses, spokesman for City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo.

Defense attorney Paul S. Geller said he was prepared to prove at trial that a misunderstanding led to the 32-year-old Siedelman's arrest. He said Siedelman was seeking only a massage that day and that officers misinterpreted statements he made to the undercover officer.

"I think my client merely went to the wrong place at the wrong time and got lumped in with a group of other individuals," Geller said.

According to a police report, Siedelman offered to pay the officer $80 to engage in two sex acts and was arrested after she left the room, saying she was going to get a condom. Geller said the police report was inaccurate.

Siedelman was charged with the same offense after allegedly soliciting a prostitute in 1993, according to court records. He pleaded no contest to a lesser charge of trespassing.

Siedelman is now teaching physical education at Bancroft Middle School in Los Angeles, said Ellen Morgan, a Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman.

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