Los Angeles

LAUSD Settles Sex Abuse Suits for $88M

LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King said in a statement the district has made changes since the scandals

The Los Angeles Unified School District has reached an $88-million settlement in a sex abuse case involving 30 students at Telfair Avenue Elementary School in Pacoima and George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School in Wilmington, victims' attorneys announced Monday.

The attorneys said 18 cases at De La Torre were settled for $58 million and 12 Telfair cases were settled for $30 million. The cases involved allegations against two teachers, one at each school.

"These historic settlements occurred because of overwhelming evidence that the District ignored warnings, employee reports and parent complaints that both of these horrible men were molesting dozens of children in the classroom," victims' attorney John C. Manly said in a statement released Monday night. "These reports made their way to the highest levels of District leadership where they were either ignored entirely or actively suppressed and the predators allowed to remain in the classroom. The question that the District needs to answer is how could this have happened? The LAUSD Board has not held a single public hearing on this issue nor does it plan to. The public deserves answers."

LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King said in a statement the district has made changes since the scandals.

"There is nothing more important than the safety of the students we serve. The resolution of these cases allows us to spare our L.A. Unified families the anguish of multiple protracted trials while being mindful of the financial consequences of these settlements," King said in a written statement Monday night.

"Well before the resolution of these cases, the School District made changes in our policies and practices to strengthen the protections for our students. While we are proud of the steps we have taken, we will continue to work diligently with our parents and the community to provide the safest possible environment for our students to learn and succeed," King said. 

The settlements come on the heels of verdicts in November 2015 on behalf of two young victims of sexual abuse at Telfair by teacher Paul Chapel III.

The jury in those cases awarded each of the victims $3 million. Chapel is serving a 25-year prison term after pleading no contest in 2012 to molesting 13 boys over a four-and-a-half year period.

The abuse at De La Torre Elementary School involved teacher Robert Pimental, who is also serving a state prison term after pleading no contest to charges of lewd acts on a child.

LAUSD was rocked a few years ago by abuse allegations involving teacher Mark Burndt at Miramonte Elementary School downtown. The district paid more than $175 million in that case, and Burndt is serving a 25-year sentence for lewd acts on children.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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