Ex-teacher apparently kills self during molestation trial

Authorities say a retired Southern California junior high school teacher charged with molesting five students apparently killed himself yesterday before closing arguments in his trial.

Sixty-eight year old David Bruce was found dead in his home in an unincorporated area of Anaheim. Orange County sheriff's spokeswoman Carrie Braun says he was discovered by a friend or another individual, and they called law enforcement.

She says his death was being investigated as a suicide pending an autopsy.

Bruce, who was free on bail, failed to show up to court for closing arguments on the 11th day of his molestation trial. He had faced a possible life sentence if convicted, but the county district attorney's office dismissed the case because of his death.

Bruce was the drama teacher at Sycamore Junior High School in Anaheim. Prosecutors alleged that he committed lewd acts with male students over 15 years beginning in 1996.

Prosecutors say Bruce had claimed that he had Hollywood connections and could help the students get movie industry jobs.

Deputy District Attorney Rick Zimmer said in opening statements Bruce would take boys to his home and to tapings at Los Angeles studios. On the pretense of giving them massages, Bruce allegedly moved on to "rubbing, touching and spanking the buttocks" of the victims.

 

Dawn Kamber