The man Slate calls "perhaps the most decorated elementary-school teacher in the country" is facing allegations of "immoral" and "egregious" behavior—including fondling three children—in the wake of an investigation by the Los Angeles Unified School District. The Los Angeles Times reports fifth-grade teacher Rafe Esquith was fired in October and an investigation launched after a fellow teacher accused him of making jokes about nudity to his students. The results of that investigation were released this week. According to the documents, problems for Esquith started in the 1970s, when he was accused of fondling two boys and a girl. And a former student recalled Esquith putting her on his lap and touching her buttocks and spanking other female students in the 1990s.
Other details included in the documents: Esquith allegedly had photos of nude women on his work computer, joked about the size of a student's penis, tickled a female student, and told a fellow teacher that a student liked green M&M's because "they made her horny." The Times reports email records indicate Esquith was acting as an ATM for former students while sending them inappropriate messages. He reportedly told a 14-year-old former student she was "sexy," a "hottie," and "soooooooooooooooo fine." To another he allegedly wrote: "I spank really hard!!! Your bottom will hurt for months." According to Slate, Esquith—who specialized in minority and low-income students—received the National Medal of the Arts, as well as awards from Oprah, Disney, and the Dalai Lama. He was even the subject of a PBS documentary. The Times reports Esquith denies doing anything wrong. (Elsewhere, a "teacher of the year" honoree quit after being informed she was not qualified.)