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Lawsuit Filed Against LAUSD Alleges Sexual Abuse By Fourth-Grade Teacher



Hart Street Elementary School 1
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A lawsuit was brought against Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on behalf of a 17-year-old girl who allegedly was sexually abused by her teacher years earlier when she was a fourth-grade student at a Canoga Park school.

The plaintiff is identified only as Jane S.N. Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court negligence suit filed Wednesday. The suit seeks unspecified damages. It was brought on her behalf by her mother because the plaintiff is a minor.

A LAUSD representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The suit alleges the girl was abused by Rene Tenas, a teacher at Hart Street Elementary School, between August 2013 and June 2014.

“Tenas sexually harassed, abused and molested Jane S.N. Doe on multiple occasions by willfully and unlawfully committing lewd and lascivious acts upon … her,” the suit alleges.

Tenas groomed Doe by telling her he would help her with her homework, and he kept her and other female students in his classroom during recess, lunch and after school for his sexual gratification, the suit states.

Neither the LAUSD nor the school administration took any action to restrict Tenas’ interaction with minors, the lawsuit alleges.

Subsequent to her alleged sexual abuse at the hands of Tenas, the plaintiff began making a connection between her present physical and emotional problems and her experiences as a student at Hart School, the suit states.

The suit further alleges that the LAUSD had actual or constructive knowledge” that Tenas had previously engaged in dangerous and inappropriate conduct with children, including sexually abusing other minors at Hart,” but “conspired to and did knowingly cover-up and failed to take reasonable steps” to avoid future sexual misconduct by Tenas with students.

After pleading no contest in October 2018 to two felony counts of lewd acts upon a child, Tenas, then 39 and of Canyon Country, was sentenced the next month in Van Nuys Superior Court to five years in state prison.


Lancaster Man Sentenced To Life In Prison For Murder Of Sgt. Steve Owen



Sgt. Steve Owen Trenton Lovell

A Lancaster man was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Monday for the 2016 murder of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Owen.

Trenton Lovell, 31, pleaded guilty to the murder on April 22, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. 

Lovell had two prior convictions and was on parole at the time of the killing of Owen, according to prosecutors. 

On Oct. 6, Lovell was accused of shooting Owen, 53, multiple times shortly after the deputy arrived at the 3200 block of West Avenue J-7 to respond to a burglary call. 

Lovell then jumped into the sergeant’s patrol vehicle while a second deputy arrived at the scene, prosecutors said.

The Lancaster man also pleaded guilty to several other crimes the same day of the sergeant’s killing, including the attempted murder charge for using Owen’s patrol car to ram another patrol car. 

Lovell also pleaded to first-degree residential robbery and false imprisonment by violence for fleeing to a nearby home occupied by two people.

The criminal complaint includes allegations that the defendant was on parole at the time of the crime and that he was convicted of robbery as a juvenile in 2006 and then again as an adult in 2009.

The death penalty was not sought as part of a directive from District Attorney George Gascón.

Owen, a 29-year veteran of the department, was well-known for his community involvement. After his death, Lancaster City Park was named in honor of the fallen sergeant. 

Support for Owen came across the country and the community, with then-Gov. Jerry Brown attending the funeral services. 

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Ex-Burbank Teacher Sentenced To 30 Years In Prison For Producing Child Pornography



Burbank Teacher Charged
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A former Burbank elementary school teacher who produced pornographic images of his 15-year-old ex-student was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in federal prison.

Sean David Sigler, 56, was sentenced by United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt, who described Sigler’s conduct as “inexcusable,” and further said, “Ruining the lives of minors is unspeakable,” according to the United States Attorney’s Office.

Sigler, who pleaded guilty in September 2019 to two counts of production of child pornography, previously taught fifth-grade students at Bret Harte Elementary School in Burbank and at Gardner Street Elementary School in Hollywood.

The Burbank resident was the victim’s fifth-grade teacher and kept in contact with her after she left his classroom, using his position as former teacher and mentor to gain the trust of the victim and her parent. Sigler then exploited that trust to gain sexual access to the girl, according to prosecutors. 

Over the course of 15 months, Sigler regularly transported the victim to his home, where he gave her alcoholic beverages and pills, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

Sigler began having sex with the minor victim when she was 15 years old, and he created multiple sexually explicit videos of the victim and took sexually explicit photographs of her. The illicit conduct took place between September 2016 and May 2017.

He also created child pornography by modifying a pornographic image of the minor victim’s body and digitally superimposing the face of a different underage former student, according to a January 2018 law enforcement search of Sigler’s digital devices, prosecutors said. 

The devices contained numerous images and videos of his sexual acts with the victim, as well as more than 5,000 images of child pornography depicting unknown and previously identified pre-pubescent minors.

Sigler agreed to forfeit $271,506 in cash seized by the government, which constitutes the proceeds from the sale of the home where he produced child pornography.

The former teacher now faces 30 years in federal prison.

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Porter Ranch Doctor Accused Of $6 Million Medicare Fraud



Los Angeles Courtroom-2

A Porter Ranch doctor was arrested Thursday on criminal health care fraud charges arising from her false home health certifications and related fraudulent billings to Medicare.

Lilit Gagikovna Baltaian, 58 operated two medical clinics in the Los Angeles area. From approximately January 2012 to July 2018, Baltaian allegedly falsely certified patients to receive home health care from at least four Los Angeles area home health agencies, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Baltaian’s false certifications were used by the home health agencies to fraudulently bill Medicare for unnecessary home health care.

The doctor allegedly received a cash benefit related to these referrals and also submitted claims to Medicare for signing the fraudulent certifications and for patient visits and injections that were not needed, according to prosecutors.

As further alleged in court documents, between January 2012 and July 2018, four home health agencies used Baltaian’s false certifications to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare, resulting in a total of approximately $6,029,674 paid on those claims.

Baltaian is charged with four counts of health care fraud. If convicted, Baltaian faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison of the Central District of California; Assistant Director in Charge Kristi Koons Johnson of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Timothy DeFrancesca of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Los Angeles Regional Office made the announcement.

The FBI and HHS-OIG are investigating the case, which was charged as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, under the supervision of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which maintains 15 strike forces operating in 24 districts, has charged more than 4,200 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program nearly $19 billion.

Trial Attorney Emily Culbertson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.

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