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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Arrested Cerritos substitute teacher pleads not guilty to molestation charge

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By Randy Economy
Ted Nishihara, a 29 year-old Cerritos resident and a substitute teacher from the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District has been arrested and charged with one misdemeanor count of child molestation.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau detectives arrested the substitute teacher on Monday at his Cerritos residence where he was immediately taken into custody and held at the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station.  
On Wednesday he appeared before Downey Superior Court Judge John Ing for arraignment in and he entered a plea of “not guilty.”  A pre-trial conference is scheduled for March 28th in Division 5.
Sandi Gibbons, Public Information Officer for the Los Angeles County District Attorney said Nishihara could get up one year in jail and faces up to a $5,000 fine if he is found guilty of the charge.

Sheriff’s officials said that on Thursday, March 8, the mother of a female student reported to Norwalk Sheriff’s Station deputies that her daughter told her that Nishihara had touched her “in a sexual manner during class.”
Detectives responded to the school on Monday morning and interviewed several students as well as staff members and others and then contacted Nishihara at his residence.
Dr. Ruth Perez, Superintendent of Schools for Norwalk La Mirada USD told LCCN that Nishihara has been a substitute teacher with the district for the past five years, and that he has never had a discipline problem of “any kind” in the past. 
Perez said that Nishihara has been blocked from returning as a substitute teacher.  “We are taking this very seriously.” 
Additionally, Nishihara has been formally released as a substitute teacher with the ABC Unified School District according to Deputy Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu.  “We sent him a letter notifying him that he is no longer affiliated with our district,” she said.
Sieu said detectives contacted her about Nishihara last week via telephone and that she and school district officials were “cooperating” with the investigation.   She would not go into specifics.
Perez told Los Cerritos Community News that some female students between the ages of 12 and 13 reported to school officials that Nishihara was “looking at them uncomfortably” and that a mother of one of the students began sharing “additional details” about the minor’s interaction with Nishihara.
Perez said there is no confirmation from school district officials if Nishihara had “inappropriately touched any student.”  “The case is now in the hands of law enforcement and the investigation is ongoing,” she said.
“Our teachers at Los Coyotes are all fine, and all of them have been told about the situation, and the students are all getting back to normal,” Perez said.  On Tuesday morning, Perez said that she had already conducted six television news interviews and a “stack of interview requests” from other media outlets.
Los Cerritos Community News has also learned that Nishihara lists the ABC Unified School District as one of his additional employers, according to an on-line professional website.
He also states that he “Substitute teaches for certified elementary through high school teachers,” and is also affiliated as a tutor with Personal Academic Tutor and SCORE! Educational Centers.
“Our main responsibility as a school district is to make sure that we provide a safe environment for all of our students,” Perez said.  “It is difficult for any child to come forward, and we need to keep encouraging our children to speak up and for parents to listen,” Perez said.
A few of Nishihara’s friends have posted on his Facebook Page just hours after the media started reporting his arrest.  One of them posted “Free Ted!! I’m staying a union of supporters!!!”  Another post said “we’re behind you Ted. Keep your head up and know that your friends have your back.”
Nishihara is a lifetime resident of Cerritos and attended local schools and graduated from Cerritos High School in 2000. Detectives are looking for additional victims and or witnesses by calling the Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau at (877) 710-LASD (710-5273).

Visit Los Cerritos Community News at www.loscerritosnews.net.
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