Chemistry professor Aimee Palmitessa, who works at the expensive Brentwood School in Los Angeles, was arrested on August 18 for allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old student. The school is known for its famous alumni, including Patrick Schwarzenegger, singer Adam Levine and actors Jonah Hill and Ben Savage. Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart’s son Liam is enrolled at the school.
Palmitessa posted $230,000 bail and was released a few hours after her arrest, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department booking records. She was arrested by LAPD at 10:00 Friday morning. According to the Los Angeles Times, she was booked on suspicion of statutory rape. Tony Im, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, told the Times she was taken into custody by detectives.
Dr. Mike Riera, the head of the school, said in a statement that the school administration is “shocked and distressed” by the allegations. Palmitessa was placed on administrative leave.
Here’s what you need to know about Palmitessa.
1. Palmitessa Is Accused of Having Sex With a 16-Year-Old Student
Palmitessa’s arrested was first reported by the Daily Mail. She is accused of having an affair with a 16-year-old student, whose name has not been released.
The circumstances of the affair are also unknown, but she will be in court on September 15. However, CBS Los Angeles reports that the alleged affair took place on the school campus.
Vincent Buzzese, her 53-year-old partner, told the Daily Mail that he had no comment on Palmitessa’s arrest. She has not commented on the case herself.
“I know nothing about this. I have no comment,” Bruzzese told the Daily Mail.
As for the school, which has a tuition over $40,000 a year, it issued the following statement from Rivera:
On Friday afternoon, the Los Angeles Police Department informed Brentwood School that Upper School teacher, Dr. Aimee Palmitessa, had been arrested on suspicion of inappropriate relations with a student and is expected to face charges. The LAPD did not share additional information with us, such as the nature of the inappropriate relationship or the identity of the minor student. We immediately placed Dr. Palmitessa on administrative leave.
We were shocked and distressed to receive the news of these allegations. As always, our primary concern is the safety, health, and well-being of our students. To that end, we will do everything we can to cooperate with the official police investigation.
We appreciate the importance of transparency and will keep our school community informed to the extent we can given our concern for the student, as well as our respect for privacy laws and the integrity of the LAPD’s investigation.
On behalf of our students and their families, we urge media and other observers to avoid posting photos that include Brentwood students who are in no way involved in these allegations. Please afford them the care and protection you would expect for your own children.
The 2017-2018 school year doesn’t start until August 28 at Brentwood.
2. Palmitessa Was Arrested in April for MDMA Possession in Indio
This isn’t Palmitessa’s first run-in with the law. As the Daily Mail reports, she was also arrested in Indio, California for allegedly being in possession of MDMA, a drug also known as “molly” and ecstasy.
CBS Los Angeles reports that she was cited at a home in Indo on April 22, the last day of the Coachella Music Festival, which takes place in the area.
She faces a misdemeanor in that case and was expected to go before a judge today.
3. She Joined the School in 2010 After Working at UCLA & The Academy of Couture Art
According to the school newspaper The Flyer, Palmitessa was hired by Brentwood in 2010. The professor, who has a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Thomas Jefferson University, previously worked at UCLA And the Academy of Couture Art in West Hollywood.
“I am just constantly amazed at the intricacies of life as we know it and how it all depends on chemistry,” she told the Flyer in October 2010.
When explaining what made her interested in teaching, Palmitessa said, “I finally decided to try and do something that combined my interests and got me away from staring into a microscope
for 10 hours a day, seven days a week.”
She told The Flyer that her transition to teaching was easy. “The campus is beautiful, the faculty are wonderful, and the students are really motivated and intelligent,” she said. “It’s a pleasure to be a part of the Brentwood community.”
4. Brentwood Students Include Reese Witherspoon’s Daughter & Harrison Ford’s Son
Brentwood is a K-12 private school for both boys and girls and is popular with Hollywood stars’ children. People Magazine reports that all of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s children have gone there. Adam Levine, Jonah Hill and Fred Savage are all alumni there.
The Daily Mail reports that Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart’s 16-year-old son Liam goes there, as does Reese Witherspoon’s 17-year-old daughter Ava.
“We paid a lot of money to make sure that our kids wouldn’t be exposed to this type of thing,” one mother of a Brentwood student told People. “It’s sad that it could happen here, because Brentwood is a really good school and I hate that this scandal will be attached to the school from now on.”
5. She Had an Article Published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 2010
According to her LinkedIn page, Palmitessa earned a B.S. in Biology from Syracuse University in 1993. She also earned a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Thomas Jefferson University in 2005.
Palmitessa also taught at Pennsylvania State Abington University.
In 2010, the year she joined Brentwood, she also had an article published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The article is titled, “Arrestin and the Multi-PDZ Domain-containing Protein MPZ-1 Interact with Phosphatase and Tensin Homolog (PTEN) and Regulate Caenorhabditis elegans Longevity” and it was written with Jeffrey L. Benovic.