City prosecutors Monday charged a Tarzana-area middle school teacher with more than half a dozen counts of misdemeanor child molestation in connection with the alleged sexual battery of three girls, authorities said.
Jason Leon, 32, who taught at Portola Middle School, is being held at Van Nuys Jail in lieu of $35,000 bail. He faces four counts of child molestation and three counts of battery. If convicted on all charges, Leon could face a maximum sentence of up to 51/2 years and $26,000 in fines, the Los Angeles city attorney's office said.
Leon is expected to be arraigned in Van Nuys Superior Court on Tuesday unless he posts bail, authorities said.
"Working with LAPD and the school district, this office will aggressively prosecute adults who prey upon our children," said City Atty. Carmen Trutanich. "Our schools should be one of the safest of places in the community for our children, and I will do everything within my authority to ensure their safety."
Leon was taken into custody Monday morning by LAPD officers after an eight-month investigation with L.A. Unified School Police.
The investigation began after a 13-year-old female student at Portola Middle School reported that Leon touched her inappropriately on the last day of class, June 15, 2012.
Another 13-year-old student also reported that on both June 15, 2012, and several days earlier, Leon had touched her. A third student at the school also told authorities she had been abused by Leon on several occasions in 2010, when she was 14, city prosecutors said.
Late Monday afternoon, L.A. Unified officials issued a statement saying that Leon was removed from the campus in June 2012, when the misconduct allegation first surfaced. Since then, he has been assigned to "a non-school location with no contact with students."
"At that time, parents and guardians were notified within 72 hours of his removal," school officials said. "A second notification indicating the arrest was sent" Monday.
Leon, who taught history and communications, began his L.A. Unified career in August 2006 as a probationary teacher at Portola before being permanently hired in 2007.