Former probation camp teacher arrested for allowing fights

A former probation camp teacher was arrested today by sheriff's deputies for allegedly running fights at a county probation camp, officials said.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Stephen Wesley, 43, about 7 a.m. without incident, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore, and is being held in lieu of $600,000 bail.

Whitmore said there was "very strong evidence'' against Wesley, who he said committed "overtly violent acts.'' Kerri Webb of the Probation Department said surveillance video recorded in August 2008 and related to the arrest had been turned over to investigators.

Webb had not seen the video, but Cal Remington, interim chief of the department, told the Los Angeles Times that Wesley was caught on a security camera at Camp Karl Holton in San Fernando "encouraging minors to fight,'' adding that "the tape showed it all.''

Wesley was employed as a substitute teacher with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, not a Probation Department employee. He was "immediately removed from the classroom'' and then voluntarily resigned Sept. 29, 2008, said LACOE spokeswoman Margot Minecki.

The Times reported that Wesley stood in a doorway as a lookout and referee while students cheered on fighting probationers. He can allegedly be seen and heard refereeing several fights, cautioning participants not to draw blood or tell anyone about the boxing-style matches, according to a probation official who spoke to the newspaper.

"Incidents such as these are thankfully a rare occurrence,'' said LACOE Superintendent Darline Robles in a statement. "We are proud of our teachers who choose to work in the most difficult of learning environments, and who are dedicated to helping young people whom other schools have long forgotten about.''

Wesley is scheduled to appear in Pasadena Municipal Court on Thursday. He is expected to be charged with six counts of child endangerment, according to The Times.