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LAPD's sexually exploited child unit investigating music teacher allegations

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The Los Angeles Police Department's sexually exploited child unit has launched an investigation into allegations that a Hamilton High School music magnet teacher showered naked with students at a local gym, said LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith Monday.

Smith said the department would conduct a new investigation into Vance Miller, 59, of Los Angeles after KPCC reported that a former student said that when he was a 17-year-old junior he showered with the teacher and two other students.

The three-detective unit handles cases involving a person in a position of trust with a child such as a school teacher, priest, or scout leader, Smith said.

"It's been forwarded to the SECU detectives and they're going to be following up on it," Smith said. "Even if it's down statute, we will look into it and present it to the district attorney." 

At least 10 students have alleged sexual abuse by Miller from the mid-1990s through 2010 and one has filed suit against the teacher and the Los Angeles Unified School District, said attorney Anthony De Marco, who represents alleged victims. Miller, a popular and respected music teacher who led the orchestra, taught at Hamilton for 17 years and with the district for more than 35 years.

Smith said the department takes any allegation of inappropriate sexual contact or abuse with a child very seriously.

"I recognize in places like gyms there's a group shower and a 17-year-old could be showering with an 18-year-old, but I think whem it's someone that's in a position of trust...I think that's inappropriate," Smith said. "When you're in that kind of position of trust, you need to maintain professional boundaries between teachers and students, between scout leaders and their scouts, anyone in a position like that, they need to maintain a professional boundary.

"When you start showering, all you have to do is think of the tragedy at Penn State, I think you can see that showering is problematic."

Miller's case will be before the LAUSD board Tuesday in closed session for dismissal proceedings.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).

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