In one of our recent case victories, we successfully secured a settlement against a Los Angeles High School for hiring a known predator who sexually assualted numerous students while coaching and teaching at the school.
The coach and teacher in question had a track record of inappropriate contact with the students he had previously taught and had been fired from previous teaching positions for sexualizing students.
The details of his misconduct were documented in his personnel file, yet Birmingham Community Charter High School hired him without first conducting a job-related background check, prior employment verification, or professional reference checks.
Birmingham failed to act as a reasonable school employer would have, given the extent of the available information showing that the teacher and coach was unfit. Even during his employment, Birmingham became aware of facts indicating that this coach and teacher was unfit for the job, yet took inadequate action to supervise, train, or discharge him.
Perhaps most alarmingly, the school allowed him to create an unsupervised and enclosed space within his classroom, where he frequently groomed and sexually assaulted students. In this space, the school even allowed the teacher and coach to install a couch, mirror, and refrigerator.
The school also ignored the obvious warning signs that this teacher and coach was sexualizing and grooming his students. For instance, he would require that the girls lacrosse team change into bathing suits and bikinis and do exercises in Birmingham’s swimming pool instead of practicing on the field. The teacher would punish any student who refused to change into bathing suits and exercise in the swimming pool, making them do grueling and excessive squats and exercises outside next to the pool, to pressure them to get into their bathing suits next time.
The case was subsequently presented to the City Attorney, who filed charges against the teacher on behalf of some of the victims, including 24 misdemeanor counts of child annoying (PC 647.6(a)(1)), sexual battery (PC 243.4(a)(1)), lewd or lascivious act on a minor 14/15 years of age (PC 288(c)(1)) and false imprisonment (PC 236). Despite pleading not guilty to criminal charges, a jury found the teacher guilty on 25 criminal counts, and he was sentenced to more than 10 years in jail.
We then brought a civil action against the school for, among other things, allowing the teacher and coach to act in the ways that he did towards the students.
After years of hard fought litigation, our office was able to obtain a large settlement for the victims, making Los Angeles schools a safer place for students.