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Hart deals with sexual assault allegations

Counselor, volunteer coach, 3 teachers still under investigation

Posted: September 20, 2008 7:46 p.m.
Updated: November 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 

Santa Clarita Valley residents were shocked last spring when three Hart district teachers, a counselor and a volunteer coach faced accusations of alleged inappropriate relationships with students.

As students return to campus for another school year, the investigations into these allegations continue for a Golden Valley High School counselor, a Canyon High School teacher, a Canyon volunteer football coach, a West Ranch High School teacher and a La Mesa Junior High teacher.

Roselyn Hubbell, head counselor, Golden Valley High School

Background:
Administrators placed Hubbell on administrative leave in April for alleged inappropriate relationships with two students.

After resigning her position in May, Hubbell, 33, sheriff’s deputies arrested her June 10 while attempting to check into a San Fernando Valley hotel with one of the students.

Deputies also arrested the student for suspicion of drug possession. A judge reduced the felony charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and child endangerment to one misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18 when the student refused to implicate his former counselor.

The pretrial for the misdemeanor charge was continued to Oct. 15.

Meanwhile, the counselor’s second alleged victim has come forward, telling his story of sex, lies and drugs to detectives with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victim’s Bureau.

That student’s family has also filed a claim against the William S. Hart Union High School District for sexual harassment, molestation and abuse the student allegedly suffered at the hands of Hubbell.

Update: Hubbell, after separating from her husband in January, moved into an apartment just a block and a half away from the home of the student she was arrested with at the hotel, said Vince Finaldi, the student’s attorney who is suing the district.

“I definitely think that relationship is still going on,” Finaldi said. “I mean, she moved right down the street from him.”

A judge granted Hubbell’s husband, Steven Hubbell, sole physical and legal custody of the children during the divorce process, and Hubbell sees her two young boys two days a week and only when a monitor is present, according to Steven Hubbell’s attorney Holly McNulty.

“(Steven) is still devastated about all of this,” McNulty said. “He’s worried about his kids. When they get older, he’s concerned that they’re going to get teased about it.”

"Now that one of the alleged victims told his story to investigators, detectives at the Special Victim’s Bureau are actively investigating the new case against Hubbell.

“It’s a ‘he said, she said’ type of thing and there’s no corroborating evidence and no witnesses,” said Lt. Art Lucas, bureau field lieutenant. “But if the new accusations rise to that level, then we’re in support of more charges being filed (against Hubbell.)”

Kevin Thomas, volunteer football coach, Canyon High School

Background:
Thomas was a volunteer varsity football coach and private basketball coach at Canyon for several weeks when he was arrested June 10 on 12 felony counts of sexually assaulting a female student at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys where he was a teacher’s assistant.

While other San Fernando Valley students came forward after Thomas’ arrest with similar allegations, there are no known Santa Clarita victims.

Thomas allegedly used the ruse that he was giving the female basketball players private massages to improve their athletic performance in order to gain their trust, then lured them into performing lewd sexual acts with him.

When detectives arrested Thomas they found allegedly incriminating video tapes in his car documenting several of the assaults, including one at a Santa Clarita hotel.

Update: Thomas, who is housed in the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles, appeared in court Wednesday where his attorney, Robert Nadler, asked for an extension to discuss the possibility of cutting a deal with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

The prosecution offered a three-year deal that would send Thomas to state prison, but Nadler said several offers were discussed, including one in which Thomas would spend a year in county jail.

Thomas’ preliminary hear-ing was moved to Oct. 17 so his attorney could determine exactly which deal is being offered and discuss various options with his client.

“Apparently there is a miscommunication between the two lawyers,” said Deputy District Attorney Isidoro Baly, who was filling in for the prosecutor.

If convicted on all counts, Thomas could face up to 40 years in prison, Baly said.

Teacher No. 1, Canyon High School

Background:
Administrators placed a Canyon teacher on administrative leave in May after detectives opened investigation for inappropriate contact with a student.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station is conducting the investigation because the allegations are for misdemeanors.

Update: After months of gathering evidence, Det. Pat O’Neill recently sent his findings to the district attorney’s office where the decision will be made whether to press charges. O’Neill expects a response from the D.A. any day now.

“It’s over at the D.A. right now,” O’Neill said. “When the suspect is not in custody, it could take just a couple of days.”
Unlike the investigations into alleged inappropriate behavior of other Santa Clarita teachers, this investigation does not involve a sexual relationship between a teacher and student.

“There was no sexual relationship involved in this incident,” O’Neill said. “This is not like the other cases being investigated at the other schools.”

Teacher No. 2, West Ranch High School

Background:
Administrators placed a West Ranch High School teacher on administrative leave in June pending an investigation into an alleged inappropriate relationship with a student.

The Special Victim’s Bureau is conducting the investigation.

Update: Detectives are struggling to prove a crime occurred since the alleged victim is not disclosing any information.
“But we are still actively investigating the allegations,” said Sgt. Peter Hahn.

Teacher No. 3, La Mesa Junior High

Background:
Administrators placed a La Mesa Junior High teacher on administrative leave in May when the Special Victim’s Bureau opened an investigation for inappropriate touching of students.

Investigators were concerned the case would be difficult to prove since the teacher would have to be sexually aroused for the touching to be criminal.

“You have to prove the sexual component,” said Sgt. Joe Gutierrez in July. “But there’s really no way to prove it, so this case probably won’t go anywhere.”

Update: Investigators recently submitted their findings in the La Mesa case to the district attorney, who declined to press charges.

“This case is no longer being investigated,” said Hahn.

While the Special Victim’s Bureau is no longer investigating the La Mesa teacher, the Hart district is still investigating the allegations.

“We’re still investigating and he’s not back at the site — he continues to be on leave,” said Rochelle Neal, assistant superintendent of human resources for the district.

The teacher is on paid leave pending the results of the district’s investigation, Neal said.

“How long will that be? I don’t know. It could be a couple of months,” Neal said.

Staff Writer Brian Charles contributed to this story.

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