Ex–Jordan High teacher’s abuse of students spanned years, prosecutors allege • Long Beach Post News | #teacher | #children | #kids

A Jordan High School teacher who quietly resigned from his job and began teaching elsewhere before being arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct with a 13-year-old girl is now facing charges of abusing or sexually assaulting two additional students.

One of the new charges is a case of abuse that allegedly happened in 2012 and 2013 when Mark Santo was a teacher at Lindbergh Middle School in Long Beach.

The second new victim is an 18-year-old former student who accused Santo of forcing oral sex on her at his home, according to court documents.

In all, he’s charged with five felonies related to sexually abusing or assaulting three former students from Jordan or Lindbergh, two of whom were underage at the time, according to prosecutors.

Santo has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A Long Beach Unified School District spokesman said the district had not been informed by police or prosecutors about the two new students Santo is accused of victimizing.

“This employee has not worked here for more than two years,” Chris Eftychiou, the spokesman, said. “Our school district took appropriate action when he did work here.”

Santo resigned from Jordan in 2018 when the school district moved to fire him after he admitted to having sex with the 18-year-old former student, which Santo said was consensual, according to records provided by the LBUSD.

As part of his resignation agreement, the district agreed to strictly limit what information it gave to Santo’s future prospective employer about the allegations. He was able to get a job teaching classes for disabled adults at an Orange County community college district before his arrest last month, when prosecutors filed the original charges against him for allegedly abusing the 13-year-old girl.

Since then, Santo’s employment there has ended, according to a spokeswoman for Anaheim-based North Orange Continuing Education.

The criminal charges are not the first time Santo has been accused of inappropriate conduct with students.

While he was a teacher at Lindbergh, he was reprimanded for liking female students’ Instagram pictures while using the handle @msanto69, which administrators said could be seen as suggestive even though Santo was born in 1969.

And in 2018, Jordan Principal Veronica Coleman met with Santo after a teacher overheard three girls talking about him hugging them, according to school district records.

In that meeting, Santo admitted to having sex with the 18-year-old, according to a memo Coleman wrote. Police pursued a case against Santo at that time based on the student’s allegation that Santo forced her into sex, but prosecutors said they weren’t able to bring charges until now because investigators lost touch with the victim after an initial interview.

Santo says he’s been unfairly maligned, according to his attorney, Bryan Schroeder.

The actions school district officials told him were inappropriate were actually gestures of support for his students, Schroeder said.

“Sadly, this guy is a victim of his own kindness,” the attorney said.

Santo maintains the sexual encounter with the 18-year-old was consensual, and he’s denied sexually abusing the underage students.

“We look forward to justice prevailing and him being fully exonerated of these charges,” Schroeder said.

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