The Contra Costa County District Attorney filed felony charges against Mira Vista Elementary School teacher Ronald Guinto, raising his bail to $17 million, Richmond police spokesperson Lt. Andre Hill confirmed last Friday. If convicted, Guinto faces life in prison.
The charges range from allegations of kidnapping, forcible lewd acts on a child, sending lewd matter to minors via the Internet, forcible oral copulation on a minor, forcible sodomy on a child, and dissuading victims and witnesses.
Guinto pleaded not guilty to all 27 charges on Friday. His Oakland-based attorneys, the father and daughter team of Robert and Anne Beles, didn’t return calls from Richmond Confidential this week. The defense counsel stressed their client’s good family and lack of any criminal history but declined further comment, The Contra Costa Times reported.
The Richmond Police Department arrested Guinto on March 5 following an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by the teacher. Hill said the investigation began in November after six male students ages 11-13 years old at the Richmond charter school Making Waves Academy made complaints to school staff.
“To our knowledge,” Making Waves Academy wrote in a statement, “the alleged misconduct took place outside of Making Waves Academy.”
Hill said the alleged abuse took place while on “excursions.” Guinto was working as a teacher’s aide at the academy and accompanied students on outings and camping trips.
Making Waves fired Guinto shortly after the allegations came to light, said Hill. However, Guinto secured a full-time position at Mira Vista Elementary School in January of this year.
Hill said last Thursday that “two days ago we learned that Mr. Guinto was working at Mira Vista Elementary School, at which time we immediately secured an arrest warrant and executed that warrant yesterday at 7:45 a.m.”
Marin Trujillo, school district spokesperson, said Guinto has been employed as a substitute teacher with the West Contra Costa Unified School District since 2009. Because no charges had yet been filed, Guinto passed the fingerprinting and background checks that were run during his hiring process in January.
When asked why the district didn’t contact Making Waves Academy for a reference, Trujillo said, “There would have been no reason. We were his prior employer.”
“We will revisit protocols,” Trujillo said.
Hill said that Richmond police were unaware that Guinto had been an employee of the school district since 2009. Hill added that there is no system in place that automatically notifies school programs when an investigation is underway. “We can’t push an alert to accomplish that,” he said.
When asked why it took so long for the police department to file charges, Hill said, “We want to make sure we contact every victim and dot our i’s and cross our t’s because these are serious allegations.”