Schoolteacher charged with sex crimes against children pleads not guilty

Lt. Andre Hill held a press conference last Thursday to answer questions about Ronald Guinto's arrest. (Photo by: Sukey Lewis)

Lt. Andre Hill held a press conference last Thursday to answer questions about Ronald Guinto's arrest. (Photo by: Sukey Lewis)

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.”

4 Comments

  1. A

    There is more to this story. Why, officially, was he terminated from Making Waves? In another article (which utilizes the official court documents released yesterday), it states that he was put on leave from MW in Oct. 2013 for an inappropriate conversation on Facebook and “within weeks”, police discovered his illicit activities. Then his termination happened. If he did something egregious enough to lose his position at one school, then why didn’t that follow him in his file through WCCUSD? They say that they are looking into protocols, but I’m beginning to wonder about the HR practices at WCCUSD and the CTA contracts masking vital information that could put children in harms way.

    Also, why did it take four months discover he was working directly with 13 year old children and arrest him? Shouldn’t he have been under surveillance of some sort during this investigation?

    It seems to me that if his FB conversation was enough for him to lose his job at one school (I assume), and they had enough evidence to investigate him, then there was enough information available to share with Mira Vista as a precaution.

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