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LAUSD trainer arrested for sexually abusing students; police searching for additional victims

LAUSD trainer charged with more than a dozen sexual assault crimes
LAUSD trainer charged with more than a dozen sexual assault crimes 00:55

Authorities are searching for additional victims of a sexual abuse suspect who has worked as a trainer at two separate Los Angeles Unified School District schools. 

Richard Alexander Turner, 64, is facing more than 15 felony counts, including forcible rape, sexual penetration of an unconscious person and sexual penetration by use of force, the county's top prosecutor said at an afternoon news conference. Turner is set to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in a Van Nuys courthouse.

"The unconsciousness in this particular case really refers to the fact that they may not have immediately been aware that they were being sexually molested," Gascón told reporters. "There have been some cases where force was used as well."

Richard "RT" Turner Los Angeles Police Department

Turner was arrested Wednesday after Los Angeles Police Department received a report that he had "inappropriately touched" a male student who is a minor at Birmingham Community Charter High School in Van Nuys, where he works as a trainer. 

He was arrested for forcible penetration with a foreign object. He was initially released after posting $100,000 bond. However, after the investigation revealed additional suspects, Turner is now being held on $750,000 bail. 

"Between 2017 and this year, Turner allegedly assaulted 10 student athletes who were seeking rehabilitation and recovery from sports injuries. Some of the alleged assaults occurred on campus, while other incidents took place outside of the school setting," the district attorney said.

During their investigation, police also learned of a second victim, also a minor, who alleged he had been inappropriately touched by Turner when he was a student at Van Nuys High School in 2017, where Turner was employed at the time. 

Parents are distraught by the news, traditionally holding the district's hiring process in high regard. 

"It's a shocker for me, especially because this school has always been safe to my understanding," said Gaby Ruiz, a parent of a student at BHS. She said that parents received an email detailing that Turner had been arrested, but many students said they were entirely unaware of the incident. 

"Today, it was not discussed," said Christian Ruiz, a BHS student. 

"It makes me feel like I should open my eyes more and look out," said Alberto Ibarra, another student at the high school.

CBS reporters reached out to the Turner residence, but were denied any communication.

Thus far, Los Angeles Unified School District has also been tight-lipped on the incident, denying to state when the 2017 incident was brought to light, and how Turner was able to get re-hired at another school.

In response to the arrested, Birmingham High School issued a statement which read: 

"Richard Turner's alleged conduct is reprehensible and totally contrary to Birmingham Community Charter High School's mission, values and the way we run our school. Our deepest sympathies go out to the student and student's family who have been impacted by this.  As always, our focus is on providing our students with a safe learning environment and the academic and developmental support they need to be successful students at Birmingham and beyond.

Birmingham is cooperating with law enforcement during the course of its investigation. Given privacy and other concerns we are not able to make any further comment at the present time."

Due to the repeat behavior, police are hoping that any potentially additional victims will come forward as they prepare to present the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Anyone with who may have been a victim of Turner or who has any information regarding potential additional assaults was asked to call the LAPD (818) 374-5415.

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