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School to Discuss Arrests of Coach, Band Instructor

August 23, 2004|Christiana Sciaudone | Times Staff Writer

Santa Monica High School administrators will meet with students and their parents this week to address concerns after the arrest this summer of two staff members charged with being sexually involved with minors.

Principal Ilene Straus will address 150 students today as they begin two weeks of band camp before the start of school.

"I think they are totally unrelated," Straus said of the two arrests. "Parents should be assured it's a very rare situation."

Michael Hearn, 37, an assistant football and basketball coach, was arrested June 2. He was charged with six felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with three girls under 18, one count of a lewd act on a child, one act of oral copulation of a person under 16 and one count of providing harmful material to a minor, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley.

The alleged incidents took place between December 2003 and May 2004 with three girls, including two 15-year-olds and a 17-year-old. Two of the girls were students at the school, Straus said, but she added that the incidents allegedly took place off campus.

Hearn posted a $20,000 bond June 11, court officials said. He pleaded not guilty to all counts and was expected back in court Aug. 30 for early disposition, when he might strike a deal with prosecutors, Robison said.

Carl Hammer, 37, an assistant band director, turned himself in to the Santa Monica Police Department on Aug. 6 and posted $40,000 bail the same day, according to police.

He was charged with two felony counts of lewd acts on a child, Robison said. The alleged victim was a 15-year-old girl who was staying with Hammer and his family because she was having problems at her own home, Robison said. She apparently was not a Santa Monica High student, Straus said.

The incident, which was described as inappropriate touching and kissing, allegedly took place June 6 at Hammer's home, Robison said. Hammer is expected back in court for arraignment Oct. 8.

Hearn worked part time as a "walk-on" coach for two seasons, Straus said. "People who are walk-on coaches tend to do it because they like kids and they love the sport," Straus said. Hearn's contract will not be renewed next season.

Hammer is on paid administrative leave, Straus said. "Mr. Hammer was a very respected band director," Straus said. "He's done good work for us."

Hammer, who graduated from Santa Monica High School, has taught there for nine years.

"I don't have a lot of facts," Straus said. "My concern is that some people have already convicted him."

Straus said she would meet with the Santa Monica Band Parents Assn. this week. Straus will address whatever concerns parents may have and explain the legal and administrative steps being taken as a result of the two alleged incidents.

Straus said she had been communicating with parents by e-mail and would address the Parent Teacher Student Assn. at a meeting Sept. 14.

Straus said all school employees undergo background checks. Neither man appeared to have a criminal record, court officials said.

The music program at the 3,500-student school is nationally recognized, Straus said.

Hammer's position at the school will not be filled, and his classes will be taught by other teachers.

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