Orange County Piano Teacher Guilty of Molesting 8 Students Faces 111 Years in Prison

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Orange County Piano Teacher Faces 111 Years in Prison for Molesting 8 Students

Orange County Piano Teacher Faces 111 Years in Prison for Molesting 8 Students

Mar 16, 2022

A popular Orange County music teacher with extensive ties to the local community faces a 111 year prison sentence after being found guilty of molesting eight girls over the course of approximately 20 years.

John Mordecai Scott, 65, was arrested nearly eight years ago on suspicion of molesting multiple students at his Lake Forest home. Scott is also accused of childhood sexual abuse at Coast Band Music in Mission Viejo. The Los Angeles Times reported that as Orange County Sheriff’s detectives interviewed more students, the number of accusers “quickly escalated.” According to authorities, one of the childhood survivors abused in 2013 was a 5-year-old.

Scott was accused of molesting 11 young girls. On Monday, a verdict was reached in Orange County Superior Court, with Scott being convicted of 26 felony and misdemeanor counts, including:

  • Various sexual acts with minors
  • Possession of child pornography
  • Exhibiting lewd materials to minors

Scott had been out on bail via a $1 million bond since 2014, but was taken into custody earlier this week.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Scott targeted his first victim in 1996. Court documents indicate he groped the initial survivor, warning her not to tell anyone. According to the Times, trial testimony revealed Scott had the victim lie down on a piano bench while he lifted the waistband of her underwear. Six years later, as the Times confirmed, she reported the interaction to Music Makers in Rancho Santa Margarita (although Scott was no longer working there by that time).

The report from the Los Angeles Times also indicated:

Many of the girls were abused at Scott’s Lake Forest home, records show. One victim was 7 years old when she started lessons. He slipped pornographic magazines into her music sheets and groped her, authorities said. Scott also forced one teen to spread her legs in a metronome exercise and showed her pornography while he molested her over and under her clothes.”

Prosecutors reportedly said that Scott used a photography room to take seminude photos of the young girls. Records also indicate that Scott specifically took pictures of one young girl at Coast Band Music in Mission Viejo. Some of the photographs featured the girl sipping water from a phallic-shaped bottle, according to court records.

Court records further indicate a history of nefarious behavior on the part of Scott, including:

  • Approaching a 17-year-old girl on the street in May 2006 and offering pay her to model for pictures. Two narcotics detectives reportedly witnessed the activity and stopped the former music teacher, but he was not charged after he said he “did not think the girl was a minor,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
  • Sexually assaulting a girl when she was 11 after claiming he was a doctor examining her. Although the girl informed her family of the assault, no charges were brought against Scott at the time.

What is Childhood Sexual Abuse Under California Law?

Children are considered minors under California law. Accordingly, a child is never able to give consent, and any sexual act involving a minor is considered abuse. Under the law, childhood sexual abuse can entail:

California law broadly defines child sexual assault as including any sexual act, such as:

  • Rape
  • Sodomy
  • Incest
  • Oral sex

Furthermore, the following actions constitute a sex crime under California law:

  • Sexual penetration with objects, fingers, or genitals
  • Contact between genitals or the mouth of one person and genitals of another
  • Intentional touching of the genitals or intimate areas
  • Masturbation in the presence of a child

Under California law, sexual exploitation of a child can also include depicting a minor in any of the aforementioned acts that are considered sexual assault. Any adult who promotes, uses, or coerces a child into participating in (or encouraging others to participate in) the following actions is committing sexual exploitation under California law:

  • Nude modeling
  • Prostitution
  • Any kind of live sexual performance

Furthermore, the law explicitly forbids any adult from coercing a child’s guardian into allowing such sexual exploitation or assault.

How Common is Teacher/Coach/Clergy Sexual Abuse?

A recent study issued by the U.S. Education Department confirmed that reports of sexual violence in schools rose more than 50% between the 2015 and 2016 school year. Such a dramatic increase in school sexual abuse, including crimes committed by teachers, has caused parents to be rightfully outraged, with many becoming more vigilant and taking steps to keep their children safe.

In recent months, Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) blog has featured countless stories of local educators and coaches being either charged or convicted of sex crimes against children.

Some of those recent Los Angeles-area teacher or coach sexual abuse crimes include:

What is Sexual Grooming by Teachers or Coaches?

According to the American Bar Association (ABA), many child sexual abuse cases are preceded by grooming. Through understanding sexual grooming and learning to identify such behaviors on the part of teachers, coaches, clergy, relatives, etc., parents can help protect their children from potential abuse.

The ABA defines sexual grooming as:

A preparatory process in which a perpetrator gradually gains a person’s or organization’s trust with the intent to be sexually abusive.

When sexual grooming occurs, the victim is typically a child, teen, or vulnerable adult.

What Tactics Will Sexual Predators or Groomers Use on Children?

Whether online or in person, groomers frequently use specific tactics, such as:

  • Pretending to be younger
  • Giving advice or showing understanding
  • Buying gifts
  • Giving attention
  • Taking children on trips, outings, or holidays

Sexual predators will use also grooming tactics in an effort to:

  • Manipulate the perceptions of other adults around the child
  • Manipulate the child into becoming a co-operating participant (which reduces the likelihood of a disclosure and increases the likelihood that the child will repeatedly return to the offender)
  • Reduce the likelihood of the child being believed if they do disclose
  • Reduce the likelihood of the abuse being detected

The relationship a groomer builds with a child can take many different forms, such as:

  • A romantic relationship
  • A mentor
  • An authority figure
  • A dominant and persistent figure

A groomer will often use the same sites, games, and apps as young people, taking time to learn about a young person’s interests and use this to build a relationship with them. Children can be groomed online through:

  • Social media networks
  • Text messages and messaging apps (like Whatsapp)
  • Email
  • Text, voice, and video chats (through forums, games, and apps)

Dordulian Law Group’s SAJE Team Discusses Sexual Grooming by Teachers

In a recent blog post, DLG’s founder and former sex crimes prosecutor, Sam Dordulian, offered specific tips for parents on how to protect children from sexual predators:

“It’s critically important to remember that sexual predators are notorious for seeking out positions (whether as a professional or volunteer) that allow them access to children. Granted, 95% of coaches, teachers, clergy, volunteers at religious institutions, etc. are likely upstanding citizens. But parents need to be aware that there’s no standard model for a sexual predator. A predator can be any of age, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.,” said Dordulian, a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County who has obtained life sentences against some of our community’s most heinous sex offenders.

“One major problem I consistently encounter with parents is their tendency to automatically view these individuals as sort of noble citizens. They don’t appreciate the potential predator instinct any random coach, teacher, clergy member, or even close friend or relative could have. I often tell parents about a case I was involved in as a Deputy District Attorney, where a teacher openly admitted that he chose the profession in order to have unlimited access to children. So, it’s important for parents to be aware that any professional who has direct private access to their children could potentially be a predator. Without encouraging paranoia, you do, in a sense, almost have to be on constant alert, because it can impact any child of any age/gender at any time. It’s not by accident that these people became teachers or coaches or clergy, it’s by design,” Dordulian added.

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

Additionally, DLG’s SAJE Team Chief Investigator and retired Los Angeles Police Department sex crimes detective, Moses Castillo, offered some important tips for parents:

“It’s very important for parents to realize that the majority of sexual predators aren’t strangers, but someone close to the child and the child’s family. Whether it’s a coach, teacher, clergy member, family friend, or even a close relative, most childhood sexual abuse is committed by a familiar face,” said Detective Castillo.

“If an adult makes regular efforts to spend more time (typically alone) with your child than you do as their parent, that’s a red flag,” Castillo added. “Premeditated attempts to get a child alone – whether to go out for ice cream, take a trip to an amusement park, the movies, etc. – are situations that can be conducive to sexual abuse.”

How Does California AB 218 Impact Childhood Sexual Abuse Claims?

For childhood sex crimes, the California statute of limitations is temporarily paused under Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218). AB 218, which took effect on January 1, 2020, tolls (pauses) the statute of limitations on all childhood sex crimes through the end of 2022.

In other words, all survivors of childhood sexual abuse or assault may currently file civil claims/lawsuits seeking financial compensation until December 31, 2022. However, as of January 1, 2023, the standard statute of limitations will resume, and survivors who did not file claims will likely be left without any legal recourse.

Additionally, California AB 218 includes a treble damages award clause which gives the courts latitude to triple financial settlements or verdicts in cases where a cover-up is proven. For example, if you are a sexual abuse survivor who was victimized through a systemic cover-up (at either an individual or institutional level), and that malfeasance was able to be proven in court, a $1 million damages award could theoretically be increased to $3 million under the AB 218 treble damages clause.

AB 218’s treble damages clause was included in the legislation in an effort to severely punish bad actors who participated in systemic cover-ups, often over the course of several decades. Such cover-ups in organizations including the Boy Scouts of America and Catholic Church have impacted countless innocent survivors, but AB 218 offers all victims an opportunity at justice.

For additional information on California AB 218 and how it offers survivors of childhood sexual abuse an unprecedented opportunity at justice, please visit our recent blog post.

Contact a Los Angeles, California, Childhood Sexual Assault/Abuse Lawyer

California childhood sexual assault civil lawsuits may be brought in an effort to recover financial compensation for various types of losses. Depending on the circumstances of childhood sex crime, compensatory damages may be pursued and recovered through a civil claim.

Examples of some common damages that may be secured through a California childhood sexual assault or abuse civil claim include:

  • Counseling or therapy expenses
  • Emotional trauma
  • Psychological distress
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Hospital or medical expenses

Although children impacted by sexual abuse are currently eligible to file civil claims regardless of when a crime occurred, the statute of limitations is different for adult survivors of sexual violence. For adult sexual assault survivors, the California statute of limitations on sex crimes allows you to file a civil claim up to 10 years after an incident. Moreover, the statute of limitations allows for a three-year window in civil claims where sexual assaults lead to the discovery of a psychological injury, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

DLG is a leading California-based sexual assault firm representing survivors across the United States. DLG offers survivors a unique type of legal representation which includes a four-tiered team of professionals known as the SAJE Team.

Led by Sam Dordulian, DLG’s experienced childhood sexual assault lawyers have helped countless survivors secure maximum financial damages awards.

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Some of our recent sexual assault civil lawsuit victories include:

For a free and confidential consultation regarding your childhood sexual assault or abuse civil claim, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today at 818-322-4056. Our sex crime attorneys have helped victims recover more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts while maintaining a 98% success record.

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