CHILD PORN CASE SHOCKS PARENTS TEACHER'S ARREST DISRUPTS SCHOOL LIFE.
PANORAMA CITY - News that a Canyon Country man who teaches elementary school faces child pornography charges drew about 70 parents to the campus Friday, worried about what to tell their children.
Parents met for about 2 1/2 hours with Liggett Elementary School Principal David Sanchez to discuss the case of teacher Paul Kreutzer, charged with downloading kiddie porn from the Internet.
The four-year teacher also is a former president of the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society, credited with restoring his community's historic buildings at the picturesque Heritage Junction in Newhall.
Kreutzer has denied the accusations, while his lawyer has declined to comment. Kreutzer is scheduled for a preliminary hearing April 5.
According to Sanchez, Kreutzer has been a good teacher, strict and demanding, a man who has mostly kept to himself.
The 61-year-old Kreutzer has been placed on unpaid compulsory leave while his case is pending and will not be returning to the elementary school as a teacher, Sanchez said.
At school Friday, Sanchez told parents that a crisis team, including the school nurse, a district crisis intervention official and a representative from the district's mental health office, would be at the students' disposal, answering their questions that afternoon.
Sanchez said that so far, students have handled the news well. Many have heard details from their parents, he said.
``They're doing really well,'' Sanchez said. ``I'm not having any problems with trauma.''
He described Kreutzer as a committed teacher. ``He's well-liked by a lot of the parents,'' Sanchez said. ``He was very dedicated with what he was trying to do. He stayed late and worked hard.''
``We hope it's not true,'' he added. ``For anyone in this situation, we'd hope it's not true.''
While the arrest has seemingly thrown parents and school officials a curveball, it has been utterly devastating for Kreutzer, his attorney, Richard Schwab, said Friday.
``Being a person who has always been respected, to be the object of these inflammatory allegations is very distressing,'' Schwab said.
Kreutzer has worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District since 1986, when he took a position as a teacher at Vena Avenue Elementary School in Arleta.
He moved on to Sunland Elementary School in 1991, and transferred to Liggett in 1996, said district spokeswoman Hilda Ramirez.
Ramirez said the matter is now up to the courts to decide, adding that if Kreutzer is exonerated, district officials will evaluate the case and decide on the teacher's standing with the district.
Sanchez said the teacher's arrest shocked staffers at the elementary school.
``You'd never think about it, but when it happens, you say, wow, I didn't think about that,'' Sanchez said.
On Thursday, Sanchez received a call from FBI agents requesting a meeting with him. Sanchez met with the officials on campus about 11:45 a.m.
About 20 minutes later, as students were gearing up to go to lunch, Kreutzer was escorted to the parking lot area and arrested, Sanchez said.
Authorities found Kreutzer by tracing the Internet addresses of individuals who had logged on to the site, created by a Dutch company.
Upon review of computer disks seized Feb. 11 from Kreutzer's residence at a mobile-home park on Soledad Canyon Road, 30 images of what appeared to be children engaged in sexually explicit acts were reportedly discovered.
Agents confirmed that at least eight of those images were identified as those of children, as opposed to adults who look like children or computer-generated images manipulated to look like children, said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.