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In recent years going back more than a decade, a newly retired La Jolla High teacher developed a reputation as a man to beware because of his reputation for unwanted physical contact with female students.
The teacher, now retired, denies any inappropriate behavior. But a VOSD investigation includes four women who’ve come forward to say they were inappropriately touched and groped in his classroom.
The teacher, Martin Teachworth “was investigated on at least four separate occasions,” reports Ashly McGlone, but “the district removed him from the classroom just once. Some student complaints may have never left the principal’s office.”
As one of his former students explains, she and her friends developed a rule: “‘Don’t hang out in Teachworth’s class alone. Take a buddy.’ He shouldn’t have been touching my hair. He shouldn’t have been breathing on it. He shouldn’t have been in that kind of space. And I felt that if he was willing to be that close and cross those boundaries with other people around, I didn’t want to see what he would do if I was alone with him.”
Though many of the students say they complained to La Jolla High’s principal at the time, and at least one met with an investigator, San Diego Unified officials said they couldn’t produce any records of the complaints. One woman produced emails she’d sent to a La Jolla High employee again expressing concern about Teachworth’s continued employment in 2013, long after she’d graduated, and those records were not included in any of the records the district produced in response to VOSD’s inquiries.
McGlone asked one of the women why she chose to come forward now. Her response: “I want people to now understand what had happened and that even a school like La Jolla High, which is a very good public school, a very well-respected school in a very nice neighborhood, can deal with something like this for years and have a cover-up, you know. It happens everywhere. It happens to any person.”
Judge Scorches Local Political Figure
Mark Arabo, who led a local trade group of independent corner stores called the Neighborhood Market Association, has gained political influence in recent years. As we reported in 2015, “he has been wildly successful working to expand alcohol permits, fight minimum wage laws and block new Walmarts and Targets.”
That’s not all. Arabo, the son of Christian immigrants from Baghdad, has been a self-styled and controversial advocate for Iraqi Christians.
But Arabo has been plagued by various accusations, and now a judge has ripped him in a scathing new ruling regarding alleged improper payments from the market association.
“This organization should not be run by the people who are running it now in terms of administering it,” the judge said. “This is one of the most unusual cases I’ve had in my 22 years on the bench. I’ve never heard so much fiction under oath. It’s really unbelievable. I don’t even know where to start.”
The judge was especially skeptical of Arabo himself.
The NMA says it plans to appeal the ruling.
Ex-Mayor’s Victims Feel Sting of Harassment Scandals
The U-T checks in with victims of disgraced former Mayor Bob Filner, who resigned amid sexual harassment accusations and pleaded guilty to related charges. Advocates for Filner’s victims also spoke to the paper.
“I see progress in the fact that women are stepping up, speaking out and people are believing them. That was not necessarily the experience we had with Filner,” said former Councilwoman Donna Frye, who made a powerful call for Filner’s resignation when the allegations became public.
Indeed, some of Filner’s progressive supporters suggested a conspiracy against him that encompassed his victims, the media and the local establishment.
The ‘Aztecs’ Take a Power, Temporarily
As the debate over the Aztec mascot of San Diego State athletic teams heats up, the U-T discovered that the university pretended for a single basketball game on Friday that the “Aztecs” didn’t exist. Even the announcer didn’t call the team by its name.
Why? Because “the team was celebrating Native American Heritage Month by wearing special turquoise uniforms and sneakers, with related festivities throughout the game, and the opponents’ nickname was … the Cowboys.”
U-T Offers Some Pot Pro-Tips
Watch out for the dangers of powerful edible marijuana, the U-T advises in a story.
The dangers of munching on marijuana aren’t obvious to everybody, apparently: New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd got ribbed mercilessly a couple years ago (and drew sympathy too) when she went to pot-friendly Denver and was surprised to get baked off her you-know-what by a marijuana-infused chocolate candy bar: “I barely made it from the desk to the bed, where I lay curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours. I was thirsty but couldn’t move to get water. Or even turn off the lights. I was panting and paranoid, sure that when the room-service waiter knocked and I didn’t answer, he’d call the police and have me arrested for being unable to handle my candy.”
New rules regarding legal marijuana released by the state last week limit the potency of edibles.
Quick News Hits: Rainbow’s End
• At least one child was still in the hospital Friday after being injured during the collapse of a platform at a parkour gym in Barrio Logan about a week earlier, NBC 7 reports. The accident is “bringing attention to the city’s other warehouse spaces that are struggling to meet the city’s safety codes”; the U-T has reported that the gym operators didn’t get a building permit for the platform.
• A homeless man was found burned to death near Mission Bay on Friday night, and police are trying to figure out if he was murdered, the U-T reports. As the paper notes, “San Diego saw a string of attacks on the homeless in 2016, including two incidents where victims were set on fire.”
• In a deep dive into challenges facing artists, the U-T wonders: “Is the region’s underground art scene dying?” Just remember a general rule about newspaper headlines that end in question marks: The answer is almost always “no.”
• The Reader has a helpful explainer about when we see (and don’t see) rainbows: Late fall and early winter are great times because the sun doesn’t go as high above the horizon, making midday rainbows possible.
Never mind the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s San Diego, so we really deserve a pot of fish tacos. Or at least that’s what I’ll leave to throw people off after I take the gold.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.