Santa Ana Substitute Teacher Accused of Sexually Assaulting 10-Year-Old Girl

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Police: Orange County Substitute Teacher Sexually Assaulted 10-Year-Old Girl

Police: Orange County Substitute Teacher Sexually Assaulted 10-Year-Old Girl

Sep 30, 2022

An Orange County substitute teacher was arrested Thursday for sex crimes, specifically the alleged sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl.

Santa Ana Police arrested Joseph Frances Deluca, 47, a resident of Irvine, on charges of sexual assault of a minor, KTLA reported.

Santa Ana Substitute Teacher Accused of Sexually Assaulting 10-Year-Old Girl

While serving as a substitute teacher at Edison Elementary School in Santa Ana, a 10-year-old girl alleges Deluca “touched her inappropriately inside the classroom,” according to KTLA.

The incident was reported to police, KTLA confirmed. Santa Ana Police officers were subsequently able to track down Deluca at Robert Heideman Elementary School in Tustin.

According to police officials, Deluca had been working as a full-time teacher for the past 15 years. He switched to a position as a substitute teacher approximately two years ago, police said.

Deluca has taught at numerous elementary schools throughout Southern California. Some of those locations reportedly include:

  • Westminster
  • Buena Park
  • Santa Ana
  • Fountain Valley
  • Tustin

Accordingly, law enforcement officials believe there may be additional survivors victimized by Deluca who have yet to be identified.

The Santa Ana Police are urging anyone with information related to a crime committed by Joseph Frances Deluca to contact them at 714-245-8349 (or by email via

Alternatively, the Orange County Crime Stoppers may be contacted at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.

Santa Ana Unified School District Settles Sexual Abuse Lawsuit for $1 Million

In December 2021, the Santa Ana Unified School District announced it had settled a sexual abuse lawsuit for “over $1 million,” although the exact amount was not disclosed, according to various news outlets.

The lawsuit was filed under California AB 218, legislation which took effect in 2020 and affords all survivors of childhood sexual abuse a “three-year lookback window” to file civil lawsuits in an effort to recover financial compensation. The plaintiff alleged that, as a 16-year-old Valley High School student, she was sexually abused by her sociology teacher nearly four decades ago. That student, Tenisha Steen, became pregnant after having underage sex with her then-teacher, Gary Satrappe, who reportedly began grooming her for sexual abuse in 1983 when she was in the 10th grade. At the time of the settlement in December 2021, Steen’s daughter from that relationship we reportedly 38 years old.

In a public news release issued around the time of the settlement being finalized, Steen, 53, said she will always have to live with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse.

The emotional and mental scars of sexual assault never fade,” she said. “Even after so many years, I struggle to deal with the pain and damage done. I wish I could have finished school like my friends. I wish I could have finished my education and had more life experience before becoming a mother so that I could have given my children a better life. And I wish I could form healthy relationships. I have spent decades trying to rebuild the life and joy I lost when I was repeatedly assaulted at the age of 16. By filing this lawsuit, I am taking another step to rebuild my life.”

School Sexual Abuse: A Widespread Issue Impacting Countless Children

School and teacher-related sexual abuse incidents have been covered prominently over the past few years here at Dordulian Law Group. Sadly, recent data indicates that school sexual abuse reports have increased significantly in the U.S.

In January 2021, the National Education Association (NEA) and U.S. Department of Education issued a report confirming that “sexual violence was on the rise in schools before the pandemic.” “As schools reopen,” the report added, “this trend may continue.”

Data provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights confirmed the following:

  • There were 14,938 incidents of sexual violence in K-12 schools during the 2017 – 2018 school year.
  • There were 9,649 incidents of sexual violence in K-12 schools during the 2015 – 2016 school year.
  • That represents 55% increase (and incidents documented within the data include rape or attempted rape as well as sexual assault).

“Why the number of incidents jumped that much hasn’t been determined. Some experts attribute at least part of the spike to more awareness (the #MeToo Movement became well known in late 2017) and more effective reporting methods,” The NEA said.

Furthermore, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) estimates that 10% of K-12 students will experience sexual misconduct from a school employee by the time they graduate high school. A literature review of educator sexual misconduct published by the U.S. Department of Education showed that the majority of sex offenders were primarily teachers or coaches in positions allowing them to spend substantial amounts of one-on-one time with individual students.

Can I File a School Sexual Abuse Lawsuit for Damages?

In addition to any criminal charges that may be filed, a survivor of sexual assault in California may file his or her own civil lawsuit seeking to recover financial compensation from the perpetrator/entity for the harm caused. Civil charges are entirely separate from criminal charges, and the outcome of one case does not impact the other (meaning that even if a sex offender was not convicted on criminal charges, the perpetrator could still be found liable for damages in civil court).

As mentioned earlier, California AB 218 currently allows all survivors of childhood sexual abuse a limited window to file civil claims, regardless of how long ago the crimes occurred. AB 218’s three-year lookback window extends through the end of 2022, allowing survivors of childhood sexual abuse a remarkable opportunity to finally obtain the justice that is long overdue.

Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) founder and president, Sam Dordulian, has used the metaphor of a “time machine” to describe California AB 218, as it affords attorneys like himself the opportunity to go back in time, “as far back as we need to” and prosecute childhood sex offenders.

However, once the three-year lookback window closes on January 1, 2023, many survivors of childhood sexual abuse will be left without any legal recourse. The current chance at justice is limited, and survivors are strongly encouraged to contact DLG’s Sex Crimes Division as soon as possible to ensure claims are filed timely and in accordance with the statute of limitations.

Contact us today by phone at 818-322-4056 for a free consultation or to ask any question you may have about AB 218 or filing a school sexual abuse claim. At DLG, we believe survivors, and we’re here to listen, to provide support, and to help you obtain the justice you deserve through a maximum financial damages award.

DLG’s school sexual abuse attorneys have helped clients recover over $100,000,000 million in settlements and verdicts while maintaining a 98% success record. As a leading California sexual assault and abuse firm, DLG is the absolute best choice available when searching for a qualified, experienced, and dedicated sex crimes lawyer.

If you experienced a sexual assault incident, don’t wait to file a claim. Contact our expert attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Our unique and support-focused SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts) features a group of dedicated sex crime professionals handpicked by Sam Dordulian. DLG’s SAJE Team is available 24/7 to assist you with your school or teacher sexual abuse claim. With a retired LAPD sex crimes detective investigating your case, a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for L.A. County litigating your case, and a licensed clinical therapist and victim advocate available to provide an all-encompassing support network throughout the legal process, you can have peace of mind knowing that your claim is in the best and most capable hands.

Contact DLG today to take the first step towards achieving the justice you deserve.

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