An opening salvo in an anticipated civil action claiming negligence on the part of administrators at the San Ramon Unified School District in the wake of serial sexual molestation by a former varsity wrestling coach was fired by lawyers representing a victim’s family earlier this week.
Lawyers representing the parent’s of a former California High School student identified only as John Doe filed papers preserving their right to sue the district for failing to protect their son from coach Kevin Lopez, sentenced last month to ten years, eight months in prison. Lopez pleaded guilty to eight felony counts of lewd acts on children between the ages of 14 and 15 along with other related charges involving three boys.
The victim, who has just turned 16 and who no longer attends the school, was a student at Cal High from August of 2013 through September of 2014. Lawyers representing his family allege that Lopez sexually assaulted and molested John Doe on several occasions and further allege that the District was negligent in the hiring, supervision, and/or retention of the 27-year-old coach during his tenure.
Lopez was hired as an assistant wrestling coach at Cal High in 2005 and was promoted to head coach in 2012. District administrators said he was released from his coaching duties as soon as they learned of his arrest.
That, apparently, was not enough for the family and their legal team.
“This case is about holding responsible an institution which is comprised entirely of mandatory reporters for allowing a sexual predator to prey on multiple children for almost ten years,” said Robert Allard, one of the lawyers representing John Doe’s family. “It is inconceivable, based on what little we know, that red flags were not presented which should have prompted an internal investigation if not an immediate reporting to the authorities.”
John Doe’s parents learned their son was being molested by Lopez on September 8 last year when they discovered sexually suggestive conversations on his cell phone. Police, who were able to “peel” the phone and recover a number of deleted messages, subsequently arrested Lopez – who also volunteered as a youth group facilitator at San Ramon’s New Life Church.
Investigators determined that Lopez had been molesting boys for ten years, his arrest stunning a school and church and sport community which had uniformly believed in him as pious and law abiding.
“Let this case serve as a reminder that there are sexual predators out there who want to gain access to our children and that any institution which employs persons who work with children need to diligently supervise and regulate them,” Allard said.