By Mey Lyn Mitteenn
Special to San Fernando Valley Sun / el Sol
Parents at Harding Elementary School continue to be concerned following the news that one of its teachers was arrested while on the Sylmar campus after a report of sexual abuse was made.
The LAPD received a report from a male victim who alleged that Giancarlo Corsi “had touched him in an inappropriate manner” inside a classroom at Harding Elementary School during the 2004-2005 school year in multiple incidents. Police arrested Corsi and he was booked for lewd acts with a minor and is being held on a $2 million bail.
Following the arrest, authorities announced they are seeking the public’s help to identify other possible victims of the Sylmar teacher.
A mother whose children go to Harding Elementary School who asked for anonymity said that Corsi was her daughter’s teacher.
“She is in fifth grade. When I learned about the arrest, we were really surprised. My daughter didn’t believe it until one of her friends showed her a picture and the news. In my case, I didn’t see any of that behavior. We had really good communication in regard to my daughter’s education.”
The parent said she previously talked to her children about what is considered inappropriate touching and told them to let her know if something happens, especially because she was sexually abused as a child.
“I was molested when I was around 7 years old. I was very young to understand. My parents loved me but for some reason, I thought it was my fault.” The woman confessed that the incident haunted her for a while and she didn’t tell her family about being molested until she opened up to a counselor. “She made me understand that this person was taking advantage of someone little, but when you are 7, you don’t really know what is happening.”
Luisa Garcia, a parent at Harding Elementary, said she is concerned. “The school called us to let us know about the arrest and then I saw it on the news … I was worried. After that, I showed the picture of the teacher to my son and asked him if something happened, but he said he didn’t know him.”
Parents also received a letter that noted that an investigation is being conducted and counseling was available. “The District will provide intervention counselors to work with students who might be impacted by the arrest and removal of the staff member due to inappropriate contact with a former student,” the document stated.
It added that the school and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) took the allegations seriously and assured parents that both entities will take every precaution to ensure the safety of the students.
“I didn’t know who the teacher was but the school sent us a paper letting us know about the arrest and they offered help to the students,” said Joana Miranda, whose daughter attends Harding Elementary School. The arrest begs the question of checks and balances and asks how the screening of teachers is conducted.
Corsi Taught at Various Schools
Corsi taught at other San Fernando Valley elementary schools from 1992-2006. He took a hiatus for approximately 11 years and returned to teach in the San Fernando Valley in 2017. Eventually, he returned to teaching at Harding Elementary School.
As is the case with the now adult man who reported Corsi, oftentimes child victims are too afraid to tell others about being sexually molested and it takes years before they are willing to report the abuse. It can be especially intimidating when a sexual abuser is a person in authority who may threaten the child and cause them to feel shame.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed bill AB218, which opened a three-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file a claim regardless of whether the statute of limitations had already expired. The law took effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and is about to expire on Dec. 31, 2022.
Before this law, victims had until the age of 26 to file a complaint if they had been sexually abused when they were children. Now victims have until the age of 40 to file a claim before the end of the year.
“Basically what the law says is that as long you were a victim of childhood sexual abuse and your statute of limitations has expired, it does not matter, we are going to open a three-year window in which you can file a civil claim,” explained Samuel Dordulian, who worked for 13 years prosecuting sex crimes as a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County.
The attorney, who now represents victims of sexual abuse, said that if a child was molested this year, there is no need to worry about the statute of limitations to present a claim.
“This law is in regard to cases that happened in the past where the statute of limitations would have expired.”
Those who commit sexual crimes against children can come from any walk of life — they can be members of the clergy or boy/girl scout leaders. Inside the school, they can be “a teacher or afterschool tutor, a custodian, bus driver, maintenance worker.” Parents should take caution with anyone who comes in contact with their children.
More times than not, those who sexually abuse children have multiple victims and there are likely to be more people who have yet to come forward.
“They [children] have a hard time processing what happened, some don’t want to talk about it or just pretend it never happened, but throughout their life, something can trigger the trauma, and eventually it will come out.
“It’s important for parents to talk to their children if they have or have had children who attended a school where Corsi previously was employed,” said Dordulian.
Detectives are asking anyone who may be a victim or has additional information regarding Giancarlo Corsi to contact Juvenile Division detectives at 1(818) 374-5415. Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1(800) 222-8477 or visit: www.lacrimestoppers.org