Former teacher faces charges in student abuse case

- A former East Bay school teacher appeared in court Monday for a hearing that could determine if he will stand trial for sexually abusing his students.

33-year-old Ron Guinto wore handcuffs as he came into court for the preliminary hearing in Contra Costa County.

On this first day of his preliminary hearing Guinto, didn't speak and wore a blank expression.

Guinto is facing 87 counts, among them kidnapping and charges he sexually abuses 13 students.

'It is certainly devastating and depressing and horrifying to see such things happen to young kids,' prosecutor Alison Chandler said outside court.

Chandler played a videotape of an interview authorities conducted with one of those victims, a then 12-year-old boy.

He described being coerced into performing sexual acts with Guinto inside a tent during various camping trips the teacher organized about two years ago.

"I let him because I didn't want him to get mad at me," the boy said in the interview. "He would say, 'Don't tell your parents and don't tell the other campers'"

"He would molest them in the night if he had a place where they would be vulnerable enough to be molested by him," Chandler told KTVU.

Guinto was a teacher at Making Waves Academy, a charter school in Richmond.

Authorities say he organized a club called Camp Epic. He got parental permission to take anywhere from two to 20 students on trips between 2012 and 2014.

"Mr. Guinto did a good job of convincing the families that the leadership they would gain through going to this Boy Scout-like Camp Epic program would facilitate them into becoming good young adults," said Chandler.

Authorities said Guinto also once took students to a motel in Vallejo instead of camping.

Guinto's attorney Jerry Lipkin would not comment on the case, saying only that Guinto has pleaded not guilty.

The prosecutor said there are videotaped interviews with all 13 victims and intends to play at least some of them during the hearing that will determine whether the judge believes there is enough evidence to put Guinto on trial.

If Guinto is held over for trial and convicted, he could go to prison for the rest of his life.

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