November 24, 2016
Former charter school teacher Ron Guinto is alleged to have molested young boys in tents, motel rooms, dormitories—even in his Richmond classroom while class was in session, said a prosecutor in the opening statements of his molestation trial last week.
The East Bay Times reports that for more than 10 years, Guinto targeted 11- and 12-year-old boys—many from Spanish-speaking families—as their instructor, online friend, church volunteer, and scout leader. Prosecutor Alison Chandler of the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office said that Guinto’s molestation case allegedly stretched throughout Northern California.
Guinto pled not guilty to 90 counts of molestation involving 15 boys as far back as the early 2000s when he was a San Jose State University college student. Guinto’s attorney Ernie Castillo told the jury that his client was living a “gay teacher’s nightmare,” arguing that “locker room-type behavior among guys” was being misunderstood as sexual abuse.
“Being a gay teacher was not easy,” Castillo said.
Most of the alleged abuse happened from 2010 to 2013, while Guinto worked for Making Waves Academy, a Richmond charter school. Eleven of his alleged victims were students of the charter school who also attended Camp Epic, defined as a “Boy Scouts troop hybrid,” which aimed to teach children leadership skills and promised college scholarships to children who worked their way up the ranks.
Camp Epic was a front, the prosecution claimed, in order for Guinto to have access to young children to molest them. Chandler told the jury that Guinto would choose which students would stay in his tent and encouraged all of the campers to share sleeping bags for warmth. Those who refused his requests were forced to sleep in the cold.
“What happens at Camp Epic, stays at Camp Epic,” the prosecution said Guinto would tell the children. Things were kept quiet until 2013, when one boy finally told his mother about the abuse.
Chandler told the jury of Guinto’s years of alleged molestation of boys beginning with a 12-year-old victim in his dorm while a student at San Jose State. One victim, now 27, was watching TV with his family when a preview of the news showed Guinto’s face following his 2013 arrest.
“It rippled through his entire body and he told the police,” Chandler said.
Guinto’s defense attorney argued that Camp Epic was a legitimate leadership program for kids started as part of Guinto’s master’s thesis. Castillo also said that Guinto had an addendum added to his contract with Making Waves permitting him to discuss sensitive topics involving Camp Epic via social media with students—despite the school’s rules against such a practice.
Guinto, who’s in custody, is expected to take the witness stand during the trial.
At the Cifarelli Law Firm, we make it our mission to hold the perpetrators of child abuse accountable for their heinous actions, like those alleged of Guinto. The compensation we have been able to obtain for our young victims will never replace what they lost but will help them in their recovery.
Call us today to arrange for a free consultation to discuss your situation with a professional and compassionate Cifarelli Law attorney at (949) 502-8600.