Apr 17, 2023
An investigation by CBS Reports found systemic oversight failures by American public schools in holding teachers accused of sexual abuse accountable. The report noted that “little is being done” in enforcing accountability on the part of school districts when sexual abuse allegations and even charges are brought against educators they employ.
“Systemwide oversight failures at the local, state, and federal levels have enabled the sexual abuse of children in American schools to persist with virtually no monitoring of such incidents,” CBS said.
CBS also referenced a troubling 2010 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) which confirmed that the practice of reinstating teachers accused of sexual abuse is one that is repeated in schools across the United States. Such an oversight, the GAO report notes, risks harm to “millions of children.”
“On average, one offender passes through three different school districts before being stopped, and can abuse as many as 73 children in their lifetime,” the GAO report said.
Failing to report reasonable suspicion of sexual abuse is a crime, CBS reported. However, federal officials and experts told the network that they believe school administrators “often do not contact authorities for fear of damaging the reputation of a teacher or the school.” Moreover, teachers told CBS that they observed a “culture that discouraged reporting suspicions of misconduct in their schools.”
“This is a phenomenon of child abuse that we allow to happen under our noses,” Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the federal Department of Education, told CBS. “It’s something that we’ve known conclusively for decades but we have insufficient collective will as a country to stop it.”
As for why teachers are able to move from “school to school” despite being either accused or even charged with committing child sexual abuse, the CBS report highlighted glaring issues within the educational oversight system:
School sexual abuse is a pervasive issue impacting kids across the nation. As we’ve discussed in several past blogs, a number of cases involving both teacher and school sex abuse have recently made headlines here in Southern California.
Redlands has faced a total of 23 lawsuits filed over the past decade, and more than 50 former students have sued the school over alleged sexual abuse, CBS confirmed. Nine additional lawsuits are reportedly ongoing, with a trial for one case scheduled to begin in May.
Although Redlands Unified has paid out more than $41 million in settlements over the past 10 years to former students who claimed teachers sexually abused them, there has been no admission of guilt on the part of the district or its officials.
“The district is not in a position to comment as to any of the litigation allegations,” Christine Stephens, public information officer for the Redlands Unified School District, said to CBS.
Stephens did say that “most of the acts” involved in the lawsuits took place between 1995 and 2016. “The administration has taken swift and appropriate actions when there has been a violation of law or board policy,” she said. The district reportedly implemented new policies over sexual abuse in 2018.
However, it is worth noting that the CBS school sex abuse investigative report confirmed that no one in the Redlands Unified School District administration has faced any charges or lost jobs/credentials over their handling of teacher sexual abuse allegations.
CBS further noted that the California Attorney General’s Office has a division specifically tasked with identifying and correcting “systemic failures and/or severe, widespread harm against children served by a local public entity,” including sexual abuse in schools. However, the Attorney General’s press office “refused to name or say how many employees are actively assigned to the unit.” When pressed by CBS Reports, “it [the California A.G.’s Office] could not identify a single case it has filed related to sexual abuse in public schools.”
As we noted in a February blog, a report from Education Week confirmed that a number of school districts across the United States have been hit with sexual misconduct lawsuits leading to settlements of $1 million or more.
According to the report:
Those figures are troubling, but the Education Week school sexual abuse report cautions that the statistics are likely an underestimate of the true number of million-dollar settlements given that the data is only pulled from publicly available records and reports. “There are likely some settlements and jury awards that aren’t public,” Education Week said.
Education Week cited trends which may influence how survivors of school sexual abuse pursue justice.
More and more survivors of teacher and school sexual abuse are choosing to file civil lawsuits seeking financial compensation. Education Week noted that the increase in school sexual abuse claims could be due to:
“Beyond the legal and financial consequences, there’s an emotional impact, as students and staff members come to terms with potential wrongdoing by their district, and a reputational cost,” Education Week said.
A troubling report from the CDC confirmed that the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns have had a negative impact on teenage girls in relation to mental health and sexual violence.
The CDC study confirmed:
“High school should be a time for trailblazing, not trauma,” Dr. Debra Houry of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said upon the release of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey results. “These data show our kids need far more support to cope, hope and thrive.”
If you are a survivor of school sexual assault or abuse, filing a civil lawsuit with Dordulian Law Group (DLG) can help you secure justice on your own terms and recover the financial compensation you deserve. A civil lawsuit is separate from any criminal proceedings that may be brought against a sexual predator by the District Attorney’s Office.
By contacting DLG’s California school sex abuse attorneys for a free consultation, we will review your case and provide you with all available legal options. We will fight tirelessly to secure all applicable damages for past harm endured by a teacher, principal, counselor, coach, or clergy member:
Examples of recent California school sexual abuse lawsuits that have been settled and garnered major headlines include:
Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.
To discuss your school sexual abuse civil lawsuit confidentially and without any obligation, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM. During your free consultation, you will be able to have any questions answered and our school sexual abuse attorneys will provide an estimate for how long your case may take to settle (and the approximate overall value of your projected settlement). 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 our community’s most dangerous sex offenders.
When you’re ready to take the first step toward securing justice for past school sexual abuse, we’re here to fight aggressively on your behalf and hold the perpetrators accountable.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.