An L.A. Unified physical education teacher accused of sexual relations with a former Nimitz Middle School student beginning in 2005 remained in the hospital today in stable condition after he led police on a multi-freeway chase that ended with his pickup truck striking a tree, police said.
Kip Arnold, 51, of Lakewood will be taken into custody and arrested on suspicion of unlawful acts with a minor once he is released from the hospital, said Bell Police Lt. Ty Henshaw, a department spokesman.
Arnold was placed under surveillance by Bell Police Department last week after a former Nimitz Middle School student who is now an adult told detectives she and Arnold became sexually involved in 2005, Henshaw said. The relationship "may have spanned several years," Henshaw said.
Bell Police Department is handling the case because "some incidents occurred in our city," Henshaw said. He declined to provide more details because of the ongoing investigation.
Arnold led police on a chase Tuesday after detectives approached his pickup truck outside a bank at about 12:40 p.m. hoping to question him, Henshaw said. Arnold "made some comment about being suicidal, rolled up the window and drove away,” Henshaw said. He led police on a 40-minute chase that ended with him careening off the road and hitting a tree in Palos Verdes.
Arnold was hospitalized overnight and upon his release will be transferred into custody, Henshaw said. Police previously said that Arnold had been arrested, but he remains officially "detained" until his release from the hospital, Henshaw said. Henshaw said the detectives are "gathering all the pertinent" facts to present to the district attorney Thursday morning; the district attorney will determine what charges to file.
A search warrant was served on Arnold's house Tuesday and some items were recovered that "could possibly be beneficial to the case," Henshaw said. He would not elaborate.
District officials said LAUSD will provide information to the state's Commission on Teacher Credentialing as soon as those charges are filed.
Arnold taught PE at Southeast Middle School in South Gate for most of the last two years starting in June 2010, district officials said. He has worked for the Los Angeles Unified School district for a total of eight years; previously at Nimitz Middle School from July 2004 through May 2008 as well as at Gage Middle School and Orchard Academies 2B, according to the district.
L.A. Unified sent out a pre-recorded call to parents and staff at Nimitz Middle School, Southeast Middle School and Bell High School Tuesday afternoon to inform them of the chase and the teacher's imminent arrest, said district spokesman Daryl Strickland.
District spokeswoman Gayle Pollard-Terry said Arnold is currently unassigned as school is out for the summer and he is currently on summer break. Once school starts in mid August, if Arnold is out on bail he would not be in contact with students, district officials said.
Pollard-Terry said depending on the nature of the charges filed, a teacher may be put on unpaid leave or paid administrative leave and have to report to the local district office instead of the school.
Henshaw said the department is still not sure if there are other victims.
“We’re hoping that if there are other victims that they come forward and call the Bell Police Department,” Henshaw said. He said several people have contacted detectives, but no one has been identified as a victim.
People with information may reach the Bell Police Department at 323-585-1245.