Another lawsuit was filed against the Los Angeles Unified School District by a plaintiff alleging she was sexually abused by a former wrestling coach.
The woman, now 21, is identified only as Jane GJ Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Dec. 12 against the LAUSD and Terry Gillard, who in October was sentenced to 71 years in state prison for dozens of sex crimes involving nine children, some who were preteens at the time their coach abused them.
In a statement released Friday, the LAUSD declined to comment specifically on the lawsuit.
“However, we continue to place the highest priority on student safety in all of our schools, and we take allegations of misconduct seriously,” according to the district. “We have implemented numerous policies and procedures to protect students and to comply with the law with respect to the prevention, investigation and reporting of child abuse. We will remain vigilant in protecting our students from those who would do them harm.”
The suit alleges the plaintiff was sexually abused between the ages of 15 and 18 years old while a member of her high school wrestling team.
“The new complaint adds a twelfth victim represented by our firm against (the) Los Angeles Unified School District based on abuse by Gillard,” plaintiff’s attorney Morgan Stewart said. “The complaint reveals newly discovered information regarding the failures in the LAUSD's Student Safety Investigation Team.”
The SSIT was lauded by LAUSD as made up of former law enforcement professionals retained to investigate allegations of sexual abuse against LAUSD staff members, but it has been a failure in practice, said Stewart.
The lawsuit alleges that LAUSD administrators forbid the SSIT team from fully investigating claims of misconduct and further preclude the SSIT team from providing their opinions on credibility or conclusions as to alleged abusers that they investigate. This effectively rendered the entire purpose of any investigation as worthless, according to attorneys representing the victims.
Although an LAUSD investigator believed that Gillard was lying about denying sexual misconduct in 2016, the investigator was not permitted to relay that information to administrators who were deciding whether to permit Gillard to return to John H. Francis Polytechnic High School, the suit alleges.
The administration allowed Gillard back on campus and he continued to sexually abuse minor students, the suit states.
“The systemic failures in the SSIT investigative process calls into question all SSIT investigations of alleged abusers within LAUSD,” Stewart said. “This means that there are alleged abusers, like Gillard, who should have never been allowed onto a school campus, yet LAUSD allowed them back without a full investigation.”