A jury Thursday ordered the El Monte Union High School District to pay $2 million to a former student who was sexually molested by a teacher in 2013.
The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about a day before finding the district liable through the actions of two administrators who failed to properly supervise teacher Richard Paul Daniels of Fontana when he had a relationship with the female student, who was 15 years old at the time.
The jury's overall award was $5 million, but the amount was reduced because the panel split responsibility for the negligence at 60 percent for Daniels and 40 percent for the district. Daniels was not a party and will not have to pay anything to the plaintiff, who is now 21.
The plaintiff attended Arroyo High School and had a sexual relationship with Daniels from April 2013 to August of that year. In 2015, a concerned adult alerted El Monte police about an inappropriate relationship between Daniels, a science teacher, and the student.
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Daniels, 59, was arrested in September 2015. He pleaded no contest in 2016 to one felony count of committing a lewd act on a child and was sentenced to three years in prison by Pomona Superior Court Commissioner Wade Olson.
Daniels, who also was ordered to register as a sex offender for life, was released early and testified during the trial. He denied most of the girl's allegations and put much of the blame for what happened between them on her, according to the plaintiff's attorney, Michael Carrillo.
"I think she's glad to put this behind her," he said.
Carrillo added he would have like to have seen a higher portion of the negligence attributed to the district and the two administrators.
Lawyers for the district said that as soon as school officials found out that Daniels was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a student, they notified a school resource officer.
Daniels was previously arrested in 2004 for an alleged lewd act on a minor at Mountain View High School. He was charged with one count misdemeanor lewd act on a child and three counts of misdemeanor child annoying.