An after-school program supervisor pleaded not guilty to charges he sexually abused four students at a Gardena elementary school, authorities said Friday.
The two-year Los Angeles Unified School District employee, 39-year-old Daniel Ayon, of Los Angeles, was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of molesting boys at the Amestoy Elementary School on West 149th Street, the Gardena Police Department said.
Police started investigating the employee after receiving reports of a staff member at the school inappropriately touching a student on April 5, authorities said.
An investigation revealed reports that Ayon had sexually assaulted a student, and detectives later identified several other victims, Gardena Police said.
The victims were described as four boys aged 10 and 11.
Ayon faces six felony counts including one count of oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child 10 years or younger, two counts of continuous sexual abuse and three counts of lewd act upon a child under age 14, the L.A. District Attorney’s Office said.
He entered his plea at his arraignment Thursday at a Torrance courthouse, the DA’s Office said.
Ayon was a supervisor for Beyond the Bell, a before- and after-school program set up by the district to provide extended tutoring and recreational activities for students, according to the district.
Several Amestoy Elementary parents expressed concern after hearing of the arrest.
Standing outside the school Friday as small children played in the background, one mother told KTLA she needs answers.
“I would like an explanation,” Monica Ontiveros said. “I would like to know if they’re doing good background checks on these individuals.”
Another mother whose three children attend the school, was shocked to hear of the molestation allegations.
“I’m very upset this is happening,” Myra Mezquita said.
An LAUSD spokeswoman said that Ayon was removed from the school site when the allegations were made in April, and that the district is fully cooperating with police.
“The safety and well-being of our students remain our top priority,” the LAUSD spokeswoman said in a written statement. “While we understand there’s a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, any allegations of misconduct are extremely upsetting, and we take them very seriously.”
Ayon is being held on more than $3 million bail, public booking records showed. He faces a possible maximum sentence of 140 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged, the DA said.
Because Ayon worked at the school for two years, police say they believe there may be more unidentified victims.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Detective Karen Salas at 310217-6180 or Detective Dee Searle at 310-217-9654.