A former third-grade teacher from Chatsworth who taught at Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison for molesting 13 former students over a roughly four-and-a-half-year period.
San Fernando Superior Court Judge Lloyd Nash also ordered Paul Chapel III, 51, to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
"Mr. Chapel took my daughter's innocence. She is constantly afraid, especially of men, thinking someone else will hurt her like Mr. Chapel did. My daughter used to be happy going to school and playing with other children there. But now she's scared and nervous," the mother of one of the girls wrote in a statement read in court by Deputy District Attorney Elena Abramson.
Another woman wrote in her statement -- read in court -- that Chapel "hurt my daughter forever" and that the girl doesn't sleep well and wakes up with nightmares.
A third mother wrote, "Mr. Chapel personally requested my son to be in his class. At the time, I thought it was because he was concerned and cared about my son's education and academic placement. I never once thought it was a set-up for him to prey on my son ... My son's innocence cannot be returned to him, but maybe he will find peace in knowing that Mr. Chapel will not be hurting anyone else."
Chapel pleaded no contest Aug. 20 to 13 counts of lewd act on a child -- one involving each of his victims.
The crimes occurred between September 2006 and April 2011 and involved seven girls and six boys who were eight or nine years old, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Chapel was initially charged last fall with sexually abusing three girls and a boy. In May, prosecutors added charges involving nine other children.
He was removed from the classroom in April 2011 and fired by the Los Angeles Unified School District in March.
Two former Telfair students sued Chapel and the LAUSD in July, alleging that Chapel touched them inappropriately and that the district failed to protect them.
The lawsuit contends that Chapel was accused of molesting an 8-year-old boy at his Ventura County home in 1997 and reassigned by the district temporarily to an administrative office. A jury that heard the criminal case against him could not reach a verdict, and he was eventually allowed back into the classroom and assigned to Telfair School in 1998, the lawsuit states.
The LAUSD originally hired Chapel in 1989. According to the lawsuit, he was sued for making vulgar remarks and showing an inappropriate video at the private Chaminade High School in West Los Angeles.