Conviction hurts school

Parents pull students out of private campus after learning pastor pleaded guilty to paying for sex.

March 26, 2010|By Brianna Bailey

Prince of Peace School, a private Christian campus in Mesa Verde, is struggling to stay open with enrollment plummeting after parents learned that the pastor of the church that owns the school once was convicted of prostitution charges.

“I love this school, and I want it to stay open,” Michael Gaumond, an administrator for the Costa Mesa school, said Friday. “Hopefully, God will intervene and we will have a school next year — that’s what I’m hoping and praying for.”

With enrollment numbers looking grim, it doesn’t appear that the preschool and K-6 school will have enough students to remain open at every grade level next year, Gaumond said.


Parents are pulling their children from the school for next year after learning that the pastor of the church that owns it, Beach Cities Calvary, was convicted in 2008, a group of parents from the school said in a written statement submitted to the Daily Pilot on Friday. After speaking with the parents, who feared retribution against their children, the Daily Pilot agreed to withhold the parents’ names.

“With this information, many outraged parents made decisions to not re-enroll their children in the school next year, bringing enrollment down to an all-time low,” the statement said.

Beach Cities’ pastor the Rev. Jim Kempner, who has presided over the church since 2001, was arrested as part of a special prostitution investigation conducted by the Tustin Police Department in May 2008, police said Friday.

He was charged with one misdemeanor count of agreeing to engage in prostitution after he placed $100 on a dresser in exchange for sex, according to documents provided by the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Kempner pleaded guilty and was ordered to complete an AIDS testing and education program, eight days of community service and two years of probation, according to court records.

The charges now show up on court records as having been “dismissed” as part of a plea agreement that required Kempner to meet their terms of his probation, said Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.

When reached by phone Friday, Kempner at first denied that he was convicted, but later admitted that he had pleaded guilty as part of an agreement.

“The only reason we did that is that I couldn’t afford the $10,000 to go to court,” Kempner said.

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