Passing The Predator: How Sex Offenders Are Allowed To Stay Active Despite Past Accusations

Arturo "Pastel" Mireles, 69, pled guilty to one count of continuous sexual abuse and two counts of lewd acts upon a child under 11. The crimes occurred from 1988 to 1991.

Mireles was an indigenous dance leader at Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc organization based in California. He was accused of taking advantage of his position to sexually abuse his former pupils in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Mireles moved to Nogales, Arizona where he was employed by the Mexicayotl Academy charter school as an educator and central figure in the school's affiliated Azteca dance group. There were more allegations of child sexual abuse by Mireles at that school.

Mireles was able to escape justice for a number of years. On Oct. 18, 2019, however, he was finally arrested and later extradited back to California to face charges.

According to a Facebook post of LAdoss Comite (Los Angeles Committee for Defense of Sacred and Safe Spaces), a group that had been seeking justice on behalf of Mireles' victims, "Five survivors gave public impact statements, and we hope this offers them and other survivors some justice and healing."

At the time of Mireles' arrest, the school director and principal of Mexicayotl Academy refused to answer questions about Mireles' relationship with the school. However, they later issued a written statement saying that his contract had been terminated in April 2015. They did not confirm the date Mireles was hired by the school district.

According to an advocate for LAdoss Comite, one of the alleged victims reached out to Mexicayotl officials upon learning that Mireles had been hired at the school's Nogales campus. It wasn't clear, however, what the school's response had been at the time.

LAdoss also posted a letter to its website which was reportedly sent to the Arizona Department of Education by an organization called La Congregacion de las Dazas Aztecas en Aztlan.

The group was alerting the ADE to the allegations against Mireles. The letter also indicated that the group had already notified Mexicayotl Academy of the allegations in August 2000.

The school issued a statement that said the school follows all state and federal laws and internal policies as part of their employment process.

The statement also emphasized that it is the school's policy to investigate all allegations pertaining to employees and that they "followed all policies throughout Arturo Mireles' employment." "Former local educator pleads guilty to child sexual abuse in California" https://www.nogalesinternational.com/news/former-local-educator-pleads-guilty-to-child-sexual-abuse-in-california/article_5320793e-4344-11ec-8d8d-873e9cca2ad6.html (Nov. 11, 2021).

Commentary and Checklist

Because administrators chose to ignore the allegations, Mireles was able to secure a new job involving more children. This enabled him to victimize more students.

Schools should be very thorough when doing background checks of new hires. If they hear allegations of sexual misconduct, they should investigate immediately and report the matter to law enforcement.

What else should schools do to hire safe employees?

  • Make certain the candidate has the necessary and current licenses for your locality. Ask to see all licenses, no matter the locality.
  • Perform a background check, including checking the public social media presence of the candidate.
  • Ask for referrals from current and past employers. Ask the referral if the candidate was, and is, safe to work with students.
  • Background checks should include, at a minimum, referral from past employers, work history, a review of social media, as well as a criminal and sex offender registry check in every state in which the workplace participant has lived or is licensed.
  • Show the candidate your child protection policies. Tell them they are strictly enforced, and that the staff has repeated child safety training sessions, and are required to report any policy violations or suspicious behaviors directly to law enforcement. This could discourage a perpetrator from continuing to pursue the position.
  • Train all adults who work with children on best practices for creating a child safe environment. ?
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