WATCH: Guitar Center Instructor Arrested For Sexually Assaulting Student, Company Accused Of Cover-Up
Video of Guitar Center Employee Goes Viral
Riverside, CA – A former employee of the Guitar Center has called out the business for its failure to protect children who were students there, after an employee was arrested for sexually abusing a child.
An instructor, Nathaniel Hernandez, age 27, had been arrested and charged with five acts of committing a lewd act on a child under 14, and one count of sodomy. He worked at the Guitar Center located on Canyon Springs Parkway, according to Fox11. Police said that he taught different ages, including several children.
Riverside police are asking for the public’s help in locating additional victims.
In a Facebook video posted on Monday, July 31, by now-former Guitar Center employee Marie Strassenburg, she had a lot to say about how the Guitar Center handled this incident. As of Wednesday, August 2, the video had been viewed more than 7.8 million times.
In the video, she said that she had been a piano instructor at the Guitar Center, and that she had just walked out of the store and quit. Marie, who was very emotional throughout the video, said that an instructor had been arrested for sexually abusing a student.
She said that the instructor, Nathaniel Hernandez, called in sick about a month ago, and that the Guitar Center fired him after a week of not showing up for work. Marie said that she was told by store managers to keep it quiet, and to tell anyone who asked that he was out sick.
She said that at first it was business as usual, and she thought nothing of it. Then she said bounty hunters came looking for Hernandez.
Marie said when she found out he was wanted by police, she and another employee pushed store management to call police, and to contact parents and students, but that she was again told to keep quiet.
She said that that she saw the online police report about Hernandez being charged with five counts of lewd acts on a child and one count of sodomy, and that she again talked with store management.
She said she asked them why they weren’t talking to families, talking to students, and was told once again to keep it to themselves, to respond with ‘no comment’. She said the manager said that they were afraid that parents would find out, and that he refused to contact the police even when they were asking for assistance with identifying potential victims.
Marie told them that they were wrong, and she then called someone in corporate that she knew.
Marie said that the online police report showed Hernandez had a previous felony criminal history. She said she asked corporate why he was hired to work with children if he had previous felonies, and that corporate told her, “you have to understand that backgrounds cost money, it is not unreasonable that a few should slip through the cracks.”
Her response was to ask corporate “how much does a background cost”, and “is it worth a child’s innocence and purity?”
She continued in the video, said not to use Guitar Center, and gave options for parents on how to keep their children safe if they were taking music lessons. Marie told KTLA on Tuesday, August 1, “I didn’t appreciate how everybody was so hush-hush about it. They told us, ‘You need to tell all the students, he’s sick, he’s not coming back, that’s why.'”
Guitar Center issued a brief statement on Tuesday, and said “it was fully cooperating” with the police investigation. Then they issued an updated response on Wednesday, and said:
“We are profoundly troubled and saddened by this situation and we are deeply sorry for the trauma that customers, associates and anyone else may be feeling as a result. We are conducting a full investigation and will take all appropriate actions. We are also working closely with law enforcement in its investigation of this matter.”
They also urged anyone with information to contact the police, and said that Hernandez had been fired for not showing up for work before police contacted them about his arrest. The company also claimed to do background checks on its employees, and said that it had hired an outside firm to check Hernandez.
The company provided no evidence that they had actually hired a vendor to perform a background check.
Hernandez’s previous criminal history was for a 2008 felony burglary conviction. Guitar Center said that this conviction didn’t show up in the background check they claimed to have done on Hernandez because California law prohibits ‘private firms’ from posting information about convictions that are more than seven years old.
They said that the outside firm did confirm that Hernandez was not a registered sex offender.
You can see the video from the employee below.