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Police continue to seek information about Mt. Diablo district custodian arrested on suspicion of lewd acts with a child

By Theresa Harrington
Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 at 7:55 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

MDUSD custodian John Astor was arrested Dec. 22 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
12-9-11

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.

Respectfully,
Fred Brill, Ed.D.
Superintendent”

Do you think the Mt. Diablo school district should inform parents about Astor’s arrest?

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  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    Of course they should, but Gary and Stevie don’t figure that into the equation. They only care about their own political gain. How they see a message helping or hurting them politically will determine if one gets put out.

  • Anon

    Yes they should. This is way to important to not say anything. If he molested a child once he could have done it again. Parents should be made aware.

  • Anon

    Theresa, can you do a story about the Mountain View crossing guard who recently lost his job because of harassment due to his sexual orientation?

  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon: I was not aware of this. Do you know the company he worked for?

  • Anon

    No, sorry I don’t know which company he worked for, I actually assumed that he worked for the district. He was an excellent crossing guard at Mountain View, in fact he was sponsored “crossing guard day” at MV and here is a link to an article about it.
    http://claycord.com/2011/03/10/crossing-guard-day-at-mountain-view-elementary-school-in-concord/

    From what I understand, he was being harassed by a lady who lives across the street from the school and her friends because he is openly gay. I don’t know the entire story, but I am very interested in knowing the details, as I feel that adults that bully each other produces children that do the same.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Anon: Thanks for this information. I believe the city of Concord pays for crossing guards, so I’ll follow up with them.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The DA has filed 10 counts of child molestation against Astor: http://bit.ly/tttms7

  • Anon

    OF COURSE, the police have now asked not less than 3x for help and for anyone to come forward ! It is break and not everyone may be reading the blogs or paper (sorry but many don’t!) and it seems to me the district is openly NOT cooperating with police who are asking for info!

  • Nextset

    Any school district who refuses to do a broadcast to parents in a case like this is doing so for a reason. Perhaps they don’t want anyone to come forward with information. Perhaps they already know what information would be produced.

    This is all not good.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Walnut Creek police said district officials have been very cooperative with them. They also said they thought the district intended to notify parents, but didn’t know when.

    However, district officials haven’t responded to my phone and email messages asking if and when such a notification might be given.

  • g

    From age 6 to age 11 with his first victim in San Francisco? Unfortunately, this sounds like it is probably going to be a case of “family member” molestation. What has he been up to from 2004 when he moved to Walnut Creek until now when he got caught again?

    I want to know what his job was before he came to the District, or where else he has been working. He certainly didn’t make enough money working part time to pay for that Condo.

  • g

    The Times salary reports also indicate John Astor worked at least a time or two for Walnut Creek School District as a “Substitute” out of the District Office.

  • Theresa Harrington

    FYI, Cottrell is facing two new charges of child pornography: http://bit.ly/uVdygF

  • Theresa Harrington

    A couple of commenters on another blog are alleging that Astor also worked as a sub at Westwood Elementary (I’m assuming this means a custodian sub).
    Are there any Westwood readers on this blog who recognize him?

  • g

    Theresa, any word from Walnut Creek School District? He was paid by that District too.

  • Theresa Harrington

    g: Thanks for pointing this out. According to our database, MDUSD paid Astor $34,906 in salary and benefits as a substitute custodian in 2010 and the Walnut Creek school district paid him $677 as a substitute supervised by the district office: http://www.mercurynews.com/salaries/bay-area/2010.
    I will follow up to see what they can tell me about his employment there.
    The WCSD district office is closed for winter break through Jan.2, but I have left messages for the superintendent and human resources assistant.