Parents in disbelief over Calif. molestation probe - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Parents in disbelief over Calif. molestation probe

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A welcome sign at the entrance to the Creative Frontiers preschool and elementary school is seen Tuesday, July 19, 2011, after California officials closed the private school amid accusations of child molestation, in Citrus Heights, Calif. A welcome sign at the entrance to the Creative Frontiers preschool and elementary school is seen Tuesday, July 19, 2011, after California officials closed the private school amid accusations of child molestation, in Citrus Heights, Calif.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Parents reacted with disbelief Tuesday as additional details emerged about child molestation allegations against the principal of a private elementary school in Northern California that was shut down by the state.

Police said Robert B. Adams, the principal and founder of Creative Frontiers School in the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights, is the focus of the investigation after several former and current students made allegations against him that date back 15 years.

The California Department of Social Services suspended the school's child day care and business licenses on Monday. An attorney for Adams denied the allegations.

A complaint filed by the department stated that several female students said Adams had touched them inappropriately and that at least one staff member at the school was aware of the complaints but did not report them.

Adams touched the students all over their bodies, including slipping his hand under their swimsuits and clothing, according to the complaint.

"On numerous occasions, respondent Adams touched female children's bodies under their shirts and down their pants," the complaint said.

It went on to say that Adams also would "seclude female children under a computer desk and lie down with them on a mat in his office."

Adams has not been arrested, and police say they are proceeding cautiously with the investigation.

"I have to point out Mr. Adams is not under arrest and an arrest warrant has not been issued," Citrus Heights police spokesman Jon Kempf said. "Due to the sensitive nature of this investigation, we want to move slowly and cautiously."

Kempf said there are more than 10 children involved but declined to say exactly how many or if they were part of the pre-school or the elementary school.

Adams' attorney, Linda Parisi, said her client is saddened by the accusations.

"We're absolutely shocked. These are completely unfounded and we're confident that it will be clear when the investigation is over there is no foundation to the accusations," Parisi said.

She said with the exception of one disgruntled employee, there has never been a sustained complaint made against Adams or the school, which he founded in 1975.

The complaint also lists an office administrator, Cynthia Higgins, as being aware of some of the allegations but failing to report them. Attempts to reach Higgins were unsuccessful and telephone messages left at the school over two days were not returned.

Parents said they were surprised by the allegations against Adams, whom the children refer to as "Mr. Bob." Many of them were posting messages of support on the school's Facebook page.

Parent Cristina Azocar said outside the school that she found the allegations difficult to believe.

"I didn't have any bad feelings about him," said the 43-year-old mother, whose 3½-year-old son had been in a summer daycare program at the site before it was closed.

"I actually thought he was pretty nice. The kids seemed to be attached to him and that was one of the things that sold me on the school," she said.

Creative Frontiers School serves about 180 students up to sixth grade and is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Tuition to attend for a full school year is $6,507, according to the website.

Its tree-lined campus in a middle class, suburban setting, about 20 miles northeast of the state capital has a small horse pasture where five horses could be seen Tuesday.

Further back, a large playground is surrounded by red, cottage-like classrooms.

On Tuesday, the campus was deserted, with a sign posted on the office saying the school had been closed by the state. Swim towels had been left hanging to dry on a fence near the pool.

The school's website says Adams was honored in 2008 as administrator of the year by the Professional Association for Childhood Education, a nonprofit organization for early childhood educators and professionals.

At Adams' house in Folsom, a suburb to the east of Citrus Heights, white garbage bags had been taped to the windows on the side of the front door in an apparent attempt to prevent people from looking in. Shades were closed at the yellow, two-story house with a wraparound front porch.

Few neighbors were at home Tuesday afternoon, and one neighbor who answered the door declined comment, saying she wasn't familiar with Adams or his wife.

___

Associated Press writer Sheila V Kumar contributed to this report from Sacramento, Calif.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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