LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Attorneys for the now-retired 4th grade teacher accused of sexually assaulting fifteen students say money is driving the victims’ allegations.
Robert Pimentel, who taught at George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School in Wilmington, appeared at a preliminary hearing Friday.
Randy Paige, reporting for CBS2, said cameras were not allowed in the courtroom.
Several alleged victims have already testified. And the defense is preparing a counterattack against allegations the victims are trying to shake Pimentel down for money.
Most of the alleged victims say Pimentel touched them inappropriately on the outside of their clothing. One alleged victim said the teacher slid his hand down her back, inside her shirt, and went down to the waistband of her pants.
Under cross examination Friday, Joseph Yanny, one of Pimentel’s attorney’s asked an 11-year-old girl if she was paid $100 to make up the allegations. Her reply was “no.”
Outside the courthouse, Yanny told Paige about the case, “It’s a bunch of … falsities … intended to make a profit at the expense of a very innocent man.”
He said the case was being fueled by parents looking to sue the LA Unified School District over the alleged abuse. “You’ve got a cadre of very close friends, as the evidence involved you will see, are out to make some money. They’re all represented by private counsel who are just laying in the background.”
John Manly, an attorney for five of the alleged victims, said “That whole defense crawled out from under a rock and is being put on by somebody with no conscience.”
Manly added, “These little girls told their parents and the police before they ever contacted a lawyer. When the facts aren’t on your side [like Pimintel's] you just have to make stuff up. And Mr. Yanny is simply making this up.”
In order to get the case to trial, prosecutors have to convince a judge that it’s possible Pimentel committed the alleged abuse.
If the case goes to trial, of course, the prosecution will have to convince a jury of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.