Guitar teacher charged with sex crimes with minor

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After a 27-year-old California guitar teacher was charged with sex crimes with a child under 14, a co-worker’s video targeting the employer has gone viral.

The video, seen by more than 3 million, was posted Monday by Marie Strassenburg, accuses Guitar Center of failing to notify the parents of children who may have been taught by the man who has been charged.

The Riverside business issued a statement saying it was cooperating with law enforcement on an investigation into a former employee.

Riverside police announced July 28 that Nathaniel Hernandez had been arrested by a SWAT team the previous day, about three weeks after an investigation began.

Nathaniel Hernandez (courtesy Riverside Police)

Nathaniel Hernandez (courtesy Riverside Police)

Hernandez, 27, has been charged with five counts of a lewd act with a child under 14 and one count of sodomy with a child under 14. Court records indicate the alleged crimes occurred March 1; he was charged July 18, when a judge signed a warrant for his arrest.

A Riverside Police Department news release said detectives were seeking the public’s help identifying other potential victims.

“Due to Hernandez’s access to children, it is believed there could be other victims who have not yet come forward,” the release said.

Three days after police announced the arrest, Strassenburg took to Facebook Monday night, posting a nearly 4 ½-minute video she said she hoped would go viral.

In the video, apparently recorded inside a vehicle, Strassenburg addressed the camera and said she was a piano instructor at Guitar Center Moreno Valley in Riverside and had “just walked out.” Hernandez, she said, didn’t show up for work a month earlier and was subsequently fired.

The store manager, Strassenburg said, asked that she and the store’s music lessons manager should “keep it quiet” and pretend Hernandez was out sick.

“We thought nothing of it until bounty hunters came in looking for him,” she said. “When I found out he was wanted by the police, we both pressed the store manager to get in touch with the parents and the students that used to be Nathaniel’s and he refused. He told us to keep it to ourselves, to keep it quiet.”

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Strassenburg discovered what Hernandez had been charged with, she said, her voice shaking.

“We asked him, ‘Why, why are we keeping this a secret?‘” she said in the video.

She alleged Guitar Center refused to contact Hernandez’s music students.

When she asked a corporate-level employee why Hernandez had been hired to work with children given his criminal record, the employee told her that “background checks cost money,” Strassenburg said.

“Really? How expensive is a background check? Is that worth a child’s innocence?” she asked. “I think not.”

Strassenburg, meanwhile, ended her video by calling for a boycott of Guitar Center, urging parents to seek private music lessons.

The chain store has more than 280 locations across the U.S. and bills itself as the world’s largest retailer of music equipment such as guitars and amplifiers.

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