Oct 6, 2023
The father of a John Muir Middle School sixth-grade student is demanding answers after Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) officials failed to take disciplinary action against a boy who is alleged to have sexually assaulted the man’s daughter.
Ivan Benitez told Fox 11 Los Angeles that the LAUSD has “failed me and has failed my daughter” through its inaction following repeated complaints related to alleged sexual harassment of an 11-year-old girl by a fellow student.
Fox 11 reported that the girl documented the alleged incidents in her journal, writing:
The girl told Fox 11 that the interactions with the boy started “innocently” at the beginning of the school year, noting that she did not know anyone else on campus at the time and the classmate was “friendly.”
“We started talking, and we started dating. He wasn’t touchy at first, but then he started to get more touchy where I would feel uncomfortable with him touching me,” she said to Fox’s Gina Silva.
The girl also indicated that as things progressed and the fellow student made her more uncomfortable, she “started hiding from the boy” who soon became “angry and aggressive.”
When the girl’s father discovered the allegations of ongoing sexual harassment, he immediately contacted LAUSD officials. But Fox 11 reported that Los Angeles Unified representatives told the concerned father that the allegations described by his daughter do “not meet the criteria for tier-one sexual harassment.”
“[The father] says they suggested moving his daughter to another school in the district,” Fox 11 reported.
The Los Angeles Unified School District reportedly issued the following statement:
“At John Muir Middle School for Advanced Studies & Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Magnet, the safety and well-being of all students and staff remains our top priority. While we cannot disclose any information regarding student matters due to confidentiality, we want to reassure our families that we are committed to the safety of everyone in our school community.”
Annalisa Enrile, a USC School of Social Work professor, told Fox that communication between parents and children related to sexual harassment is critical, and noted the importance of talking with kids about relationships as well as boundaries.
“I think the biggest takeaway for parents here is communication,” Enrile said.
“We really should be educating both our boys and our girls about how to be respectful, how to be communicative, how to ask for consent.”
Sadly, countless cases of school sexual abuse and misconduct are regularly reported in Southern California. Earlier this week, Pedro Antonio Tellez – an employee of John Muir Elementary School in Glendale – was arrested and booked on felony charges of Lewd Acts on a Minor Under the Age of 14 years after the parents of two victims separately reported that their child had been touched inappropriately.
The Tellez arrest is one of many examples of school sexual abuse cases which have impacted students from various area districts in recent years:
Many of these school sexual abuse cases have led to civil lawsuits being filed by parents of victims. Following the claims being filed against school districts and liable parties (whether teachers, faculty/staff, coaches, etc.), many major settlements have been awarded to victims:
Sexual abuse impacting children is actually far more common than many people realize. Some statistics which reflect this troubling issue include:
As the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) notes, the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse is difficult to determine because it is often not reported. Many experts, however, are of the belief that these types of crimes actually occur far more often than the number of claims that which are brought to the attention of authorities reflect. Additionally, child sexual abuse is not uniformly defined, so statistics may vary, per the NCVC.
A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Bureau report from 2010 entitled “Child Maltreatment” found that 9.2% of victimized children were sexually assaulted.
David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, has published numerous studies related to child sex abuse which indicate that:
If you have questions about your school sexual abuse civil lawsuit, contact Dordulian Law Group (DLG) today for a free and confidential consultation.
DLG was founded by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County whose more than 25 years of experience includes obtaining life sentences against some of the local community’s most dangerous sexual predators. Dordulian leads a group of professionals with an array of sex crimes experience known as the SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts). DLG’s SAJE Team is comprised of four tiers of school sexual abuse resources:
Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.
Together, the DLG SAJE Team offers survivors of school sexual abuse and their families peace of mind and confidence throughout every step of the litigation process.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.