RICHMOND, Calif. (CN) - Promising "scholarships and academic opportunities," a charter school teacher used California camping trips to sexually molest three boys, the families claim in court.
The three Minor Does sued Making Waves Academy and three Making Waves affiliates, Camp Epic, and the alleged abuser, Ron Guinto, in Contra Costa Superior Court.
The boys claim that Guinto, a math and science teacher at the Richmond-based school, "performed unwanted touching, sexual battery, and sexual assault" on them while camping in 2013.
Guinto, operator of Camp Epic, "frequently" spoke about the camping trips, for which he issued permission slips at Making Waves Academy "as a way for his students to obtain scholarships and academic opportunities," the plaintiffs say.
"Guinto used his position as a teacher to engage his students to participate in extracurricular activities, such as camping trips," according to the Oct. 17 complaint. "Guinto frequently spoke about the camping trips as a way for his students to obtain scholarships and academic opportunities. The children in turn communicated this to their parents to allow them to participate in these extracurricular activities."
Guinto allegedly took a group of students to South Lake Tahoe in March and May 2013.
"It was during this trip that Guinto engaged in sexual conduct with plaintiff minor Doe 3, touching plaintiff in an inappropriate and offensive manner," the complaint states. "Guinto made plaintiff sleep in the same sleeping bag as him. Plaintiff minor Doe did not consent to this touching."
Guinto, 32, again assaulted the teen, the plaintiffs say, on trips to Angel Island in July 2013, and at an unspecified location in October 2013.
Also in October, on separate camping trips, Guinto allegedly assaulted the two other teens.
"On 'Oct. 25, 2013, [defendant MWA] learned of the alleged violation of [the] school's employment policies committed by [defendant Guinto], one of [their] middle school teachers.'" (Brackets in complaint.) "According to a letter sent to parents by defendant MWA, defendant Guinto was immediately suspended from all school related activities and was prevented from entering school grounds while the matter was investigated.
Making Waves, however, allowed Guinto to participate in a campus-wide Olympics a day after allegations surfaced, the plaintiffs say.
They claim the school also allowed Guinto to return to its grounds and retrieve his belongings, including photos, video and other documents related to the camping trips, "which allegedly contained information relevant to the sexual abuse."
Guinto was reportedly hired as a seventh-grade English and science teacher at a Contra Costa County elementary school in January, amid an investigation into the sexual abuse.
Guinto was arrested on campus in March and charged with 11 counts of lewd acts with a child under 14, two counts of forced oral copulation and one count of assault with intent to commit sodomy.
"Were we irresponsible and reckless? I would disagree with that," Charles Ramsey, president of the West Contra Costa Unified School District board, told the San Francisco Chronicle regarding Guinto's hiring. "Could we do a better job? Of course."
The boys say they suffered "emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, humiliation, [and] physical and psychological injuries" from the alleged assaults.
They seek punitive damages for sexual battery, negligent hiring and supervision, and seduction of a person below the age of consent.
They are represented by Robert Arns of San Francisco.
Making Waves Academy was founded in 2007 as a charter school for grades 5 through 8.
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