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2001 - Then-Assemblyman George Runner introduces legislation to memorialize the historic Ridge Route. Enacted Oct. 4. [story]


[KHTS] – Officials with the District Attorney’s Office dropped a child molestation-annoyance charge against a Legacy Christian Academy teacher Wednesday.

carlastreraCarl Astrera, 35, of Panorama City, was in court for a preliminary arraignment, where he was expected to file his plea to the charge, when Laura Knight Jackson, deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County moved to dismiss the charge.

Astrera was arrested around noon Feb. 28 at the private Christian school on the 27600 Block of Dickason Drive in Valencia.

Astrera, who has taught computer science at the school for 14 years,  was greeted by a crowd of about 80-90 parents and past and present students of Astrera, who expressed support for Astrera.

“The crowd gathered here in support of Mr. Astrera,” said Rhonda Chobanian, a parent of two children who had Astrera as a teacher. “Everyone has believed from the very beginning that there will be no question that the truth will come out and the charges will be dropped.”

Dozens were wearing shirts with “#TruthWillPrevail” across the chest.

The alleged victim was an 11-year-old boy, according to Sgt. Brian Hudson, an investigator with the Special Victims Bureau of the Sheriff’s Department, who characterized the accusation as “inappropriate touching and behavior that’s inappropriate in any setting,” at the time of the arrest.

Carl AStrera 4-350x263

“Two kids made an accusation, and they weren’t founded, there was no corroborating evidence, and ultimately, the prosecutor believed that she couldn’t prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt,” said R.J. Manuelian, Astrera’s defense attorney.

Legacy Christian Academy officials issued a statement shortly after the arrest, saying they did not believe any student was subject to any risk.

“Based on the information we have obtained, our 14 years of experience with this teacher and even the nature of the allegations, we had and have no reason to believe that any Legacy student was subjected to any risk with this teacher,” according to the statement.

The statement was attributed to Legacy Christian Principal Timothy W. Borruel. It was posted on the school’s website.

Astrera refused to comment outside the courthouse.

“They could always bring the charges again, but I took a look at the police report and, honestly, I have no idea why they filed it in the first place,” Manuelian said. “I was just very surprised.”

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70 Comments

  1. Melissa Malatesta Terrano

  2. It was an amazing moment – but does not make up for what he’s been through…

  3. Well this is good news for residents and parents with kids in that school.

  4. The truth did prevail!! We love and TRUST this man with our children! He is a great man and I am proud to say he is my friend and I am a Legacy parent! We love you Carl!!

  5. Interesting that in the beginning so many parents and students were placing the blame on one young student and denying the teacher could ever do such arm. But now the above story states there were two allegations from two students… kind of makes you say hmmm….I’m not saying he is guilty, the DA isn’t saying he is w/out guilt, just pointing out that questions remain.

    • Jennifer Griffin- I would urge you to look into the case. There are NOT multiple parties with accusations…the student made multiple accusations. And also, the DA will NEVER say that the defense is innocent or it makes them look foolish for charging them in the first place. To be honest “questions don’t remain” I can say that because the defense didn’t even have to move to dismiss the case. The Prosecution (DA) did that before the defense even had a chance to speak.

    • Jennifer Griffin- I would urge you to look into the case. There are NOT multiple parties with accusations…the student made multiple accusations. And also, the DA will NEVER say that the defense is innocent or it makes them look foolish for charging them in the first place. To be honest “questions don’t remain” I can say that because the defense didn’t even have to move to dismiss the case. The Prosecution (DA) did that before the defense even had a chance to speak.

  6. Please do not gossip about this man. Act like an adult and find out the facts, do not just smear his name around. Its embarrassing. Its so easy for you to hide behind your facebook accounts.

    • Vanessa Brookman what I find very revealing is that you responded to my comment, which I addressed to those who are gossiping. You are allowed to form your own opinion. However, your speaking about this situation without any knowledge of the case and the claiming “we’re all entitled to our own opinion” is no different than the 6 year old who punches his brother and declares “it’s a free country”. It’s true. But not helpful, and not mature.

    • Vanessa – I celebrate your right to express your opinion. The 1st Amendment protects that. The 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments are there to protect Carl with due process of the law, and it appears that is what happened. Thankfully, he will not be tried in the court of public opinion.

    • Not the part about the Constitution…

  7. Please do not gossip about this man. Act like an adult and find out the facts, do not just smear his name around. Its embarrassing. Its so easy for you to hide behind your facebook accounts.

    • Vanessa Brookman what I find very revealing is that you responded to my comment, which I addressed to those who are gossiping. You are allowed to form your own opinion. However, your speaking about this situation without any knowledge of the case and the claiming “we’re all entitled to our own opinion” is no different than the 6 year old who punches his brother and declares “it’s a free country”. It’s true. But not helpful, and not mature.

    • Vanessa – I celebrate your right to express your opinion. The 1st Amendment protects that. The 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments are there to protect Carl with due process of the law, and it appears that is what happened. Thankfully, he will not be tried in the court of public opinion.

    • Not the part about the Constitution…

    • Sadly Vanessa Brookman you just proved my point. God bless you!

    • He has already been tried in the court of public opinion. Heart breaking for him, and for his family.

  8. carrie says:

    It’s unfortunate that teachers in today’s world have to think about every kind, joking, or friendly gesture – just in case it is misconstrued. Mr. A taught our kids for 9 years – and was nothing but a kind, qualified, dedicated, and humorous teacher. Both my kids loved – and still love him. I continue to pray for healing and for the restoration of his reputation.

  9. There was no case. If you don’t know what you are talking about then you shouldn’t speak about it.

  10. There was no case. If you don’t know what you are talking about then you shouldn’t speak about it.

  11. John Gilbert John Gilbert says:

    Hope he has a job and a reputation to go back to.

  12. John Gilbert John Gilbert says:

    Hope he has a job and a reputation to go back to.

  13. I don’t know… But if he is a child molester the truth will re surface. I hope to God he isn’t

  14. I don’t know… But if he is a child molester the truth will re surface. I hope to God he isn’t

  15. Steve Parks Steve Parks says:

    You’re hiding behind flowers Vanessa.

  16. Steve Parks Steve Parks says:

    You’re hiding behind flowers Vanessa.

  17. “innocent until proven guilty…” Let’s not forget some of the founding principles of our republic. The Constitution affords Carl due process.

  18. “innocent until proven guilty…” Let’s not forget some of the founding principles of our republic. The Constitution affords Carl due process.

  19. Let’s hope the verdict is the truth. As I stated before when it comes to boys the law isn’t as protective. Very sad.

    • Ana Gigi Sola please review the charges to put your mind at ease. The boy made an accusation that something occurred during class in front of 25 other students and every other student said it did not occur.

  20. Let’s hope the verdict is the truth. As I stated before when it comes to boys the law isn’t as protective. Very sad.

    • Ana Gigi Sola please review the charges to put your mind at ease. The boy made an accusation that something occurred during class in front of 25 other students and every other student said it did not occur.

  21. Chris Wooley Chris Wooley says:

    I’ve known Carl for years, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s a good man and I’m really glad to hear that these unfounded accusations were dropped by the D.A.

  22. Chris Wooley Chris Wooley says:

    I’ve known Carl for years, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s a good man and I’m really glad to hear that these unfounded accusations were dropped by the D.A.

  23. It seems pretty apparent to me that they, meaning law enforcement and the DA, did make a horrible mistake — by making an arrest and initiating their abortive prosecution in the first place. There was an absence even of allegations, which if their truth were assumed, could possibly constitute criminal behavior. That is why only the vaguest charges were ever advanced and aired in the media, along with utterly reckless and malicious expressions of suspicion about a pattern of conduct. Taking all of the circumstances together, including a workplace arrest obviously calculated to cause maximum humiliation to Mr. Astrera and intimidation to others, my opinion is that the arrest and prosecution resulted from abuse of power/connections by a Sheriff’s Department member motivated by vendetta and his own frustration as a failed parent of a problem kid. Yet another scandal to add to a disgraced agency already awash in myriad scandals.

  24. Benjamin Coussens, his attorney is quoted as saying TWO kids made the accusation. Regardless, I am not saying he is guilty, just pointing out that things are not necessarily black & white.

  25. Stephen Gold Stephen Gold says:

    That’s just Awesome…. I hope he becomes the principal

  26. When it comes to children better to be safe than sorry. The teacher can recover from this but, could a child recover from sexual abuse? Better to be safe.

  27. Juana Romero Juana Romero says:

    Way too many molesters get away with it.

  28. Just because they can not prove his guilt, does not mean he was innocent. When there are multiple people saying he did something to them, you take the side of caution. Always take the child’s side until you can prove the child was not telling the truth. They stated the DA can still bring charges against him, but at this time they are not. Truth did not prevail in this case, the lack of evidence won. Benjamin Coussens obviously supports this teacher and that is admirable and Vanessa Brookman may not. Both are entitled to that right. In the end, full knowledge of the case shows charges were dropped due to lack of evidence to proceed. That is what I was told by a person who is connected to the case. But I personally do not have the time to requisition all the details and read them, I trust my contact.

  29. Jerry Johnson says:

    I still don’t see anybody pointing out the real problem with this case. Regardless of guilt or innocence there are two issues here that should embarrass all of us, especially those that say he might not be “innocent”. First, the DA should have had a longer investigation prior to filing charges. The charges were ultimately a fishing expedition and the only one who is suffering here is the man who was unfairly accused (note: I figured he was innocent, but regardless, he was accused WITHOUT merit). The whole point of the investigation process is to substantiate claims as worthy of pursuit. This claim was not, but the DA filed to appear “tough”. We elect our DA’s and not enough people question our prosecutor’s policies. IMHO, society is better served by the occasional criminal NOT being prosecuted versus the occasional innocent person being prosecuted. Under the veil of “child protection”, this case went the wrong way.

    Second, and more importantly, nobody seems to be talking about the fact that we have a misdemeanor law on the books with the word “molest” in it. The complaint that was filed, if convicted, would have had less of a penalty than tax evasion. When the law was drafted, decades ago, the word molest did not have as strong a reaction as it does today. Nobody would have been talking about this had it been tax evasion. That should bother every Californian and clearly point out that we have TOO MANY LAWS. There are plenty of child protection laws with very serious penalties. This particular section of the penal code is not helpful. This law doesn’t even require contact with a child (physical or verbal). This particular code is designed to harass and not to protect.

    It is unfortunate that more blog posts aren’t highlighting this awful infraction of justice. How many more people’s lives will have to be damaged before we recognize that creating redundant laws with vague requirements is harming the liberty our Constitution guarantees.

    Just hope that you aren’t ever falsely accused under some toothless law.

  30. I guess SCTV is not posting his photo – now that charges have been dropped.

  31. Life long resident says:

    No the truth did not prevail

  32. I think is funny how the parents with kids at this school are the ones supporting the teacher. The Blowhards in this thread have nothing to do with the school. Go figure.

  33. It’s sad if its not true BUT very sad if it is true! Parents might want to pay very close attention to their children & their behaviors.

  34. The media will always report news they know people will pay attention to, because they want to be the first one to break “a story”, rather than investigate all of the facts first, and speak to the people that are actually impersonally involved in the matter. Yes, a child always comes first, but sensationalizing this story, when there were so many factors involved for the people who were close to it, is very sad. The school community rallied behind this person because they all knew intricate details of the case that we’re never presented by the media

  35. Giovanni says:

    I think there is reason with what Carlos E. Needham said – accusing someone of molestation or rape for example can be a weapon – doesn’t matter if he is innocent or not, b/c they are already accused. Of course there have been cops who have done the right thing and get kicked out of the force or mocked b/c they don’t tow the frat boy mentality of their police boys club.

  36. And none of yours make any sense. You must be very close to the other party. Right? Why else would you be talking about this. I hope you can just pray for all involved, And find a pet project to better spend your time. Thanks!

  37. Kelli says:

    DAs drop cases all the time that are not slam dunk because they are overwhelmed with work. This does not mean he’s innocent… Two children making accusations makes you wonder.

  38. So sad to see adults taking the teachers side from the very beginning. I can only imagine what this would do to a child if they are telling the truth.

  39. David Crosby says:

    This case reminds me of the Mc Martin case in the early 1980’s. It was a tragic overreach of government trying to make a case which destroyed reputations and a business as well. I am glad to see this case being suspended at this point until there is more evidence. Now these children are much older and need to be protected as well but the rights of the accused need to be protected by the Prosecution as well. Don’t let this leak out to the press do you investigative work and make charges where appropriate protect the children but also protect the citizens that are accused of the crimes as well. It is prosecutor’s job to charge where they have cause. I used to run six group home where children were put in our charge by the State. I have firsthand experience with inappropriate actions of some the employees but mostly the children are upset at an employee and make a false charge. Teenagers are smart and use allegations, the Law as a weapon sometimes against their parents and authority figures that will not go along with their desires.

  40. reputation is still messed up by this. they should of investigated before telling the world :(

  41. False accusations and then s mans life is scared. Hateful people.

  42. From all the comments I sure it’s going to suck to be the kid who brought up those allegations, article does not really going to detail what exactly the students claims were against teacher, and why the parents automatically supported the teacher side. It’s not much of a backstory or any information at all about the story. No details at all to draw an opinion. I guess you have to be connected to the school somehow to have the inside scoop

  43. That poor teacher. They don’t get paid enough to deal with stupid money hungry people

  44. His life and his career will never, ever be the same. I feel a deep sadness for him.

  45. Thank you for following up on this and announcing the TRUTH.

  46. It only takes one family to destroy an otherwise spotless reputation. Sad

  47. What’s with the shameless plug above? SMDH

  48. What’s with the shameless plug above? SMDH

  49. LM says:

    This was a misdemeanor charge!!!!!! Don’t you think that if anything sexually really occurred a felony charge would have been brought against him??? Come on people read the facts and the code in which he was arrested for….you might understand it clearer!!! Carl is an outstanding man and teacher. He was both my kids computer teacher and a great supporter of them. He was kind, caring and only wanted the best for the kids. To this day, 9 years after the oldest graduated, if I see Carl out, always asks how the kids are doing!!!! I don’t believe in sewing, but I hope he decides to go after this parent for false allegations and defamation of character!!! Shame on this parent!!!!

  50. LOL! Really? Got a wife 2 kids, I’m on top of the world. How u doing? Bored? You seriously need a hobby.

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