Oct 13, 2022
Students who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a former Sun Valley high school wrestling coach will receive a $52 million settlement against the Los Angeles Unified School District. Some of the abuse occurred several decades ago, but the settlement was reached under a claim filed via California Assembly Bill 218.
Terry Gillard, 56, was sentenced to 71 years in prison in October 2019 for sexually assaulting 14 young students, according to a KTLA report.
Between 1991 and 2017, Gillard abused young athletes he met while coaching at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley and at the Boys and Girls Club of San Fernando, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office confirmed in a statement.
Survivors of Gillard’s abuse were reportedly boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 17.
KTLA’s report indicates that the complaint against the Los Angeles Unified School District alleged:
Gillard was ultimately convicted on the following sex crime charges:
At Gillard’s sentencing, the Los Angeles Times reported that a young female wrestler told the court “of the agony she felt seeing her abuser again.”
“I’ve been struggling to learn how to live without the constant dread of seeing you again,” she said. “I’m disgusted with myself because of how I foolishly trusted you.”
Another of Gillard’s victims said he had been lured with the promises of wrestling wins, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“I knew something was wrong, and the day the event happened in the back of the Mitsubishi, it was shocking,” he said. “You always told me I was the only one who could be trusted. I could never snitch.”
In July 2022, court papers were filed with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard J. Burdge stating that a “conditional” accord was reached in the cases filed against the LAUSD, the Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley in Pacoima, and the former coach, Terry Gillard, according to a CBS News report. Said papers were filed just days before the scheduled start of a trial involving Gillard. The accord has now been finalized through the aforementioned $52 million sexual abuse settlement.
The lawsuit filed against the Los Angeles Unified School District was possible through legislation known as California AB 218. AB 218 affords every survivor of childhood sexual abuse an opportunity to file a civil claim for financial compensation – no matter how long ago the crime occurred.
Additionally, in an effort to deter sex crimes involving systematic cover-ups, AB 218 provides the courts with latitude to issue triple damages when such malfeasance is proven through what’s known as a treble damages clause. As an example, if a survivor plaintiff were awarded a $10 million damages award and a cover-up by either an individual or institution were proven, said survivor could actually receive $30 million in total compensation.
California AB 218’s three-year lookback window officially expires on December 31, 2022, however. After that time, the standard statute of limitations on child sex abuse claims resumes, and survivors who did not file lawsuits will likely be left without any legal recourse – particularly for crimes which occurred many years ago.
DLG’s SAJE Team (Sexual Abuse Justice Experts) features four-tiers of dedicated professionals who are available to survivors 24/7 for support and to answer any questions:
Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.
DLG has helped clients recover over $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts while maintaining a 98% winning record. When you’re ready to pursue justice for a childhood sexual abuse crime, we are here to serve as your dedicated legal advocates – fighting tirelessly to secure justice and the maximum financial compensation you deserve.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.