Police continue to seek information about Mt. Diablo district custodian arrested on suspicion of lewd acts with a child
Walnut Creek police are still asking the public to come forward with information about Mt. Diablo school district custodian John Astor, who was arrested near his Walnut Creek home last Thursday on suspicion of lewd acts with a child under 14.
Today, General Counsel Greg Rolen confirmed in an email that Astor worked at Cambridge, Holbrook and Walnut Acres elementary schools. Rolen did not say whether the district intends to notify parents of the arrest or whether Astor worked at other campuses.
Polce suspect Astor of molesting a boy younger than 14 in Walnut Creek within a week of his arrest, according to detective Sgt. Jay Hill. Hill said Astor had not met the victim at any of the schools where he worked.
When I spoke to Hill today, he said he was not aware that Astor worked at Cambridge, Holbrook and Walnut Acres elementary schools. Police plan to bring the case to the District Attorney tomorrow, Hill said.
Walnut Creek police said they first learned of Astor a couple of months ago, when an adult reported that an alleged molestation occurred about 10 years ago in San Francisco. Hill said Walnut Creek police forwarded that report to San Francisco police.
At that time, Hill said, Walnut Creek police didn’t know that Astor was a school custodian. I have called the SFPD to find out whether they followed up on the report and hope to have more information tomorrow.
I also tried contacting Mt. Diablo district Superintendent Steven Lawrence and Rose Lock, assistant superintendent for Student Achievement and Student Support. Both were out of the office on vacation today, but expect to return tomorrow.
At this time, I have not heard of any parent notifications being sent out regarding the arrest. Susan Petersen, director of elementary school support, told me today that she learned of the arrest yesterday and didn’t know where Astor worked or whether the district would notify parents.
When Walnut Creek police arrested Diablo View Middle School teacher Andrew Bruce Cottrell on suspicion of sex with a minor earlier this month, the district sent out a message to the school community and held a parent meeting the following Monday. Cottrell was arrested Dec. 9 on campus in front of some students. He was alleged to have had sexual relations with a former student.
The same day as Cottrell’s arrest, Lafayette police arrested special education teachers’ aide Stephanie Elliott at Springhill Elementary in Lafayette on suspicion of sexually assaulting a sleeping woman last year in a home near Walnut Creek. The charges were unrelated to the school or students, police said.
After that arrest, Lafayette district Superintendent Fred Brill alerted the community in the following e-mail:
“Message to Parents
The purpose of this communication is to inform you that one of our instructional aides at Springhill Elementary School was arrested today at approximately 11 a.m. According to the Lafayette Police Department, the charges have nothing to do with children or anything that occurred on campus.
At this time we have very little information about this police matter. Our focus will remain on the safety and education of our students. I can assure you that we are in close contact with the Lafayette Police Department, and we will continue to keep you informed as appropriate.
We appreciate your understanding and support.
Fred Brill, Ed.D.
Do you think the Mt. Diablo school district should inform parents about Astor’s arrest?