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Lawsuit argues three Torrance Unified school officials ignored sexual abuse of student with autism
A lawsuit filed against the Torrance Unified School District has accused three middle school officials of failing to follow-up on allegations of sexual abuse by a group of male pupils against a female student.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, argues that Calle Mayor Middle School principal David Mosley, assistant principal James Ashikawa and special education teacher William Kealey violated state law by not filing a report of suspected child abuse with police. The suit also alleges the school officials retaliated against the victim and her family. The district wouldn’t confirm whether the three officials still work at the school, but the Calle Mayor website says they do.
District officials declined to comment. The attorney for the plaintiffs — the victim’s guardian, grandmother and stepfather, all identified with pseudonyms — also declined to comment.
On Nov. 2, 2016, according to the lawsuit, two middle school students sexually harassed and molested a fellow student, identified at Jane Ah Doe, who is on the autism spectrum. The attack happened during the lunch break in an area of campus “known to be dangerous” and “off limits to special needs students,” according to the lawsuit.
No criminal charges have been filed against the students.
The lawsuit does not say when or how school officials became aware of the allegations of abuse, but it does say they investigated and received a confession from one of the boys, who admitted to sexually abusing Doe multiple times on different occasions, with another student sometimes watching.
But it was an “inappropriate and ill conceived investigation,” the lawsuit says.
In a phone conversation with Doe’s mother, the lawsuit says, the assistant principal “accused Jane Ah Doe of consenting to the molestation” and asked “if Jane Ah Doe regularly engaged in pulling her pants down.”
The suit also argues that the officials tried to “cover up and minimize” the incident and that they knew of two other boys who grabbed the victim, in a sexual manner, at a birthday party. “Shocked” parents were present and Kealey the special education teacher, promised to keep those boys away from the girl.
Because Doe is on the autism spectrum, the lawsuit argues, she was especially vulnerable, but the officials failed to grasp “the full extent of Jane Ah Doe’s vulnerability to attacks.”
The officials also retaliated against Doe and her family, the lawsuit says.
“Among other things, they refused to confirm the identities of the perpetrators, refused to move the perpetrators to another classroom and told (her guardians and mother) that they should move Jane Ah Doe to a different school,” the lawsuit reads.
In Feb. 2017, the school did agree to assign an aide to the victim to provide one-on-one assistance and protection — but withdrew the aide the following month.
When asked why, Kealey, according to the suit, told the victim’s mother that “this is what happens when you get lawyers involved.”
Mosley, the principal, told Doe’s family the school was not required to provide individualized care to the student, even though it was, the suit alleges.
The victim continues to suffer “severe emotional harm,” including depression, mental anguish and humiliation according to the suit.
The lawsuit was filed in March. The trial is set for next year.
One can only wonder how Kavanaugh would have ruled if this had come before him.
"If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy." David Frum, Republican, January 18, 2018