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Family Of Abused Cal High Student Initiates Civil Action Against District

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The opening salvo in a potentially expensive legal action against the San Ramon Unified School District was filed earlier this week.

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.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Anticipated…. yes. How much was Kristen Cunnane awarded for her suit? 3 million?

  2. It is hard for me to understand how – given all the stories and attention given to similar cases in similar school districts – this is allowed to continue.

  3. Once again a trusted, respected member of the community one person described as “the most Christian man I’ve ever met” turns out to be evil and unworthy of our trust. A master manipulator it sounds like. Incredible.

  4. Willie Sutton robbed banks. When asked why, he allegedly replied, “because that’s where the money is”. Is it any wonder that pedophiles are attracted to youth sports programs, especially ones involving physical contact and long hours of training such as wrestling or gymnastics?
    Attempting to seduce various kids in a youth program over 10 years is at least as reckless as robbing a few banks. And no one noticed?

    Someone probably did notice. Someone probably did report it. That is why this is very sad all over again.

  5. If the perps in these cases have assets, I have no problem seizing them all and placing them in trust for the victims before executing the perp. But, I continue to be wary of these “failure to supervise” theories of liability yielding large payouts. The final press release is always careful to note that the funds came “from our insurance policy.” Which I think is a deceptive. Much school insurance is the form of co-ops that basically share the pain. Similarly, independent commercial providers are sure to increase premiums to account for this new level of risk.

    It’s not much of a stretch to say that ALL TAXPAYERS contribute to these settlements. Thats, ultimately, where the money comes from. If we are OK with this, why not cut out the lawyers (and their 30%+ cut) and raise income or sales taxes across the board to create a fund to compensate people who were sexually assaulted by public employees (in connection with their work)? Seems more honest and transparent. Get a conviction against the first-order perp, and you are entitled to a payout from the fun. Is that what we want? I might be OK with that. Certainly better than the status quo (for everyone other than lawyers).

  6. Not really sure how administrators are supposed to know abuse is occurring. Did anyone report suspicious behavior and were those reports subsequently ignored? Seems parents bear some responsibility for what’s going on in their child’s life. These predators usually target vulnerable children.

  7. Is it common for teachers to have their student’s cell phone numbers? This seems to be the common thread to all these stories. If I were with the school district I would ban or at least severely limit such contact.

  8. Well, at least, the judge didn’t decide he was too handsome for prison (Lafave) or felt probation-only was reasonable (Latourneau).

  9. Agree about the cell phones. That appears to be the method of communication used in these cases. There needs to be more scrutiny and regulation. All communication between student and teacher should be restricted to district sanctioned and district monitored devices.

  10. I have just one question. Why is a picture of the child posted on this article? If that is “John Doe” his anonymity has just been blown, subjecting him to further stress, embarrassment and pain. What possible purpose could this serve? He’s not my child, but if he was, this blog purporting to be a “news outlet” would be in trouble.

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