RICHMOND -- Even as he allegedly abused the middle-school age children left in his care, even as he purportedly lied to parents about field trips throughout the Bay Area, court documents show that Ronald Guinto articulated a strict code to his campers: "What happens at Camp Epic stays at Camp Epic."
What allegedly happened on the off-campus, overnight camping trips was repeated sexual abuse of 11-and 12-year old boys, the documents say.
The court papers, made public this week, offer the first detailed account of the numerous allegations against the 32-year-old English and science teacher arrested last week on numerous sexual abuse and kidnapping charges that could land him in prison for the rest of his life.
Often, his victims said, Guinto played lewd games with them as a prelude to the abuse; at least once he showed a child a pornographic movie.
Authorities say Guinto recruited his victims while he was teaching at Making Waves Academy, a charter school in Richmond near Hilltop Mall, to join Camp Epic, an organization he founded in 2009 as part of his Master's degree program in urban education. Nineteen students have been identified as participating in Camp Epic, which has no affiliation with the charter school
At the time of his arrest, Guinto was planning an unauthorized trip to Yosemite in April with his new students at Mira Vista Elementary School, located in East Richmond Heights. Authorities have identified six victims from Making Waves thus far; there have been no reports of victims who were students at Mira Vista, though detectives believe other participants in Camp Epic may have been victimized.
The investigation into Guinto began on Oct. 29, when an administrator at Making Waves called Richmond police to report Guinto had been placed on administrative leave for an inappropriate Facebook conversation with an 11-year-old student, according to a probable cause statement by lead investigator Detective Walton Nelson.
Within weeks, investigators uncovered Guinto had taken students on trips to Mount Diablo State Park, San Jose, Yosemite, and Napa, engaging in sex acts with students inside tents beginning in December 2012 and ending as recently as Oct. 26, three days before police were notified, according to documents. On that outing, the parents of one of the boys said they thought their son and other students were camping overnight at Mare Island, but Guinto instead took them a Motel 6 in Vallejo, Nelson wrote. Guinto allegedly slept in the same bed as two boys.
One 12-year-old boy told an investigator that his alleged abuse began in December 2012, when he was sleeping in a tent with Guinto and another student. Guinto allegedly asked the boy if he could fondle him, the first of about 30 such incidents spread over about 10 campouts, according to documents.
At a camping trip in Napa Skyline in 2013, the boy said, Guinto woke him up in the middle of the night to show him a video titled "Teacher Porn," and then performed oral sex on him.
The teacher, according to police, rented a home in Richmond's Hilltop Green, not far from Making Waves. On the way to a Camp Epic meeting at a student's home, Guinto allegedly brought an 11-year-old boy to his home in October, where he tried to kiss the boy inside his bedroom.
Students also told police that Guinto would "baptize" them by passing gas on them or pulling their towels off during showers and that he liked to play a game called "cup check," in which he would hit them in their genitals.
A search warrant affidavit shows during raids at homes in Vallejo and Richmond police seized two computers, an iPad, a smartphone and sought to obtain Guinto's DNA.
Guinto was arrested last week and pleaded not guilty Friday to 27 charges plus enhancements including allegations of kidnapping, forcible lewd acts on a child, sending lewd images to a minor over the Internet, forcible oral copulation on a minor and forcible sodomy on a child. If convicted, the Vallejo native faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In January, after Guinto had been fired from Making Waves but before the allegations had been made public, Guinto was hired to teach at Mira Vista Elementary School, which is part of the West Contra Costa Unified School District.
Guinto was hired at Mira Vista after passing a criminal-background check; because he was on the school's list approved substitute teachers, his references were not called, officials said. West Contra Costa school officials said after Guinto's arrest that they plan to revise their hiring process.
Guinto remains in custody at County Jail in Martinez. He is scheduled to return to court in Richmond on March 28.
David DeBolt covers breaking news. Contact him in Richmond at 510-262-2728. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.