by Andrew Blankstein, LA Times/LA Now | http://lat.ms/WoTrVm
This post has been updated. See below for details.
February 4, 2013 | 3:09 pm :: City prosecutors charged a Tarzana-area middle school teacher Monday with more than half a dozen counts of misdemeanor child molestation in connection with alleged sexual battery of three girls, authorities said.
Jason Leon, 32, who taught at Portola Middle School, is being held at the 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 counts, Leon could face a maximum sentence of up to 5 1/2 years and $26,000 in fines, officials with 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 Portola Middle School student 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.
School district officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Updated, 4:40 p.m.: Late Monday afternoon, Los Angeles Unified officials issued a statement, saying 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 career in the L.A. Unified in August 2006 as a probationary teacher at Portola before his permanent hiring in 2007]