A Santa Clara County jury that found three schoolgirls and their parents liable for defaming a Catholic school teacher they branded a ''perv'' is about to decide how much one of the students should pay in punitive damages.
The jury found on Friday that the defendants damaged John Fischler's reputation by spreading false statements that he inappropriate touched the children and peeked into a girls' bathroom. The former P.E. teacher was cleared by police of sexual misconduct.
The San Jose Mercury News reports the 49-year-old teacher was awarded at least $362,000 in compensatory damages.
The jury also found that one of the girls, now 14 years old, acted with malice and is liable for punitive damages. The second phase of the trial to determine how much she'll have to pay is set to begin Monday.
After he was accused of being a "pervert," he never felt his reputation was restored and he lost his job.
Experts told the Mercury News at the time the lawsuit was filed that suit may have other impacts.
Experts said that Fischler's lawsuit may have a chilling effect on victims of actual abuse: "80 to 90 percent of victims are too cowed to come forward," said Paul A. Mones, an attorney and children's rights advocate.