A lawsuit was brought against Los Angeles Unified on behalf of a teen who alleges she was sexually molested in 2016-17 by her teacher, who is also facing criminal charges.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Thursday names as defendants the LAUSD, teacher Hector Rodriguez and David Manzo, principal of Orchard Academies in Bell, where the plaintiff -- now 14 years old -- was a student.
The suit alleges negligence, sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual battery.
Rodriguez is awaiting trial on four counts of annoying or molesting a child, one count of false imprisonment and one count of intimidating a witness, according to the lawsuit.
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An LAUSD spokeswoman released a statement Monday regarding the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.
"While we cannot comment on pending litigation, the Los Angeles Unified School District remains committed to the growth and improvement of strategies to ensure the safety and well-being of all students," the statement reads. "We have continually enhanced training for recognizing and reporting suspected abuse, mandated child-abuse awareness training two times per year for all employees, revised policies and procedures that address allegations of
employee misconduct, implemented procedures to notify parents of allegations of sexual misconduct through the Blackboard Connect message and a 72-hour parent-notification letter and updated the child abuse and neglect reporting policy, requiring employee acknowledgement of the policy."
The Blackboard Connect service is a two-pronged mass communication system that allows schools and the LAUSD to disseminate important messages to parents and staff within minutes.
"Student safety remains our top priority. We want to reassure our families that we remain vigilant in protecting our students from those who would do them harm," according to the statement
The lawsuit alleges Rodriguez inappropriately touched the plaintiff numerous times from October 2016 to May 2017. The suit also alleges the teacher exposed himself in a lewd manner in front of the plaintiff and other students in the classroom.
After the alleged abuse by Rodriguez, the plaintiff began to make a connection between those events and her present emotional problems, according to the suit, which also alleges that Manzo and other LAUSD administrators failed to take proper steps to protect the girl from Rodriguez and that information that could have brought the teacher to justice sooner was hidden from parents and police.