Thousand Oaks High School Employee Arrested for Sending Inappropriate Images to Student

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33-Year-Old Westlake High School Employee Arrested for Sending Illicit Images to Minor

33-Year-Old Westlake High School Employee Arrested for Sending Illicit Images to Minor

Dec 6, 2022

A 33-year-old Conejo Valley Unified School District employee was arrested December 2 on charges of sending harmful matter to a minor as well as possession of a controlled substance, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department confirmed.

Thousand Oaks High School Employee Arrested for Sending Inappropriate Images to Student

Thomas Ballas, a resident of Thousand Oaks and theater tech at Westlake High School, was taken into custody after school administrators reported that an underage student had been receiving inappropriate messages, according to a story from local FOX 11. Thousand Oaks Police School Resource Officers reportedly investigated the complaint and discovered that the messages were “more significant,” including “numerous illicit images” sent through social media, FOX 11 said.

Investigators eventually identified Ballas, a technical specialist in Westlake High School’s theater department, as the suspect. Following a warrant being served at Ballas’ residence on December 2, officials reportedly found “sufficient evidence to tie him to the [illicit] messages,” according to FOX 11.

Detectives discovered “additional information that corroborated what the victim had previously stated,” according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. During the search, Ballas was also found to be in possession of a controlled substance, local KTLA reported.

The suspect was charged with:

  • One count of sending harmful material to a minor
  • One count of possession of a controlled substance

Ballas was booked at the Ventura County Pre-Trial Detention Facility. He has since been released on bail and is due to be arraigned December 19 in Ventura Superior Court, according to the Thousand Oaks Acorn.

In a districtwide message sent on December 5, Superintendent Mark McLaughlin said Conejo Valley Unified School officials had “taken immediate action to terminate the employee.”

“The safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority,” McLaughlin said. “The Conejo Valley Unified School District and all of our school sites take seriously each and every reported act of misconduct.”

“If you or your child have concerns about inappropriate texting or inappropriate social media use, please immediately contact school administration or law enforcement officials.”

“We are grateful for our strong partnership with local law enforcement officials, which allows us to work together quickly and efficiently on safety concerns and investigations,” Superintendent McLaughlin added.

Ventura County Sheriff’s officials indicated that their investigation is ongoing. Authorities believe there may be additional victims who have yet to be identified, and the Thousand Oaks Acorn reported that Ballas had been employed by Conejo Valley Unified Schools for 12 years.

Accordingly, law enforcement officials are urging anyone with information related to a sex crime committed by Thomas Ballas or a victim who has not been identified to contact them immediately. Tips can be directed to Detective Greg Webb of the Sheriff’s Thousand Oaks Sexual Assault Unit at 805-371-8309.

2022 California School Sexual Abuse Statistics

A recent report from Redlands Daily Facts offers a glimpse into the systemic problem of California sexual abuse in schools.

According to Redlands Daily Facts, the following statistics have been confirmed:

  • An estimated one in 10 California students will experience school employee sexual misconduct by the time they graduate from high school.
  • 53% of incidents occur at school or a school event.
  • 19% of incidents occur online.
  • 79% of school sexual misconduct involves skin-to-skin contact.
  • 14% of school sexual misconduct does not involve contact.
  • 56% of school sexual violence victims are female.
  • The average age of a school sexual violence victim is 15.
  • 67% of school sexual violence offenders are male.
  • The average age of a school sexual predator is 36.
  • Only 53% of school sexual offenders are ever convicted of a crime.
  • Only 51% of school sexual offenders end up on the state’s registry.

“The extent of the problem in America’s schools is impossible to quantify. No national database tracks instances of sexual abuse of students by employees in K-12 schools. But anecdotal evidence, spilling off the pages of newspapers and online news sites across the country, suggests something close to an epidemic,” the Redlands Daily Facts reported.

Los Angeles County School Sexual Abuse Cases Make Headlines

Sadly, Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) blog regularly features stories of local school, coach, and clergy sexual abuse scandals impacting countless survivors and their families.

Last month, an Orange County ministry director who had worked with boys and girls in a variety of titles was arrested on multiple sex crime charges:

  • One felony count of sexual penetration of a child over 14 by a foreign object force
  • One felony count of sexual penetration of an unconscious victim, one felony count of a lewd act upon a child age 14 or 15
  • One felony count of using an underage person for obscene matter

This year alone, a number of area schools have been hit with complaints of sexual abuse from students:

  • A Sylmar Elementary School TeacherGiancarlo Corsi – was arrested in November for inappropriately touching a student several times. Corsi worked at Harding Street Elementary School in Sylmar and also taught at various schools in the San Fernando Valley.
  • Former Birmingham high school trainerRichard Turner – was arrested in October for sexually abusing at least 10 students.
  • A Redlands Youth Soccer coach was arrested in August for having sex with a 14-year-old girl in the backseat of his car.
  • LAPD detectives arrested Samantha Arizabal, a teacher at Ivy Bound Academy in Sherman Oaks, in March following reports of alleged inappropriate sexual conduct and child molestation surfaced.
  • An Orange County piano teacher was found guilty of molesting eight students in March and now faces 111 years in prison.
  • Two Rialto assistant principals from Carter High School were arrested in February for failing to report three separate sexual assault allegations made by female students against a male teenager.
  • Michael Traurig, a San Mateo equestrian coach for youths and adults in Los Angeles, was arrested in February on suspicion of molesting a 13-year-old student.
  • A former Mater Dei High School track and football coach was sued in January by an ex-student who alleged she was repeatedly raped as a 16-year-old at the prestigious Catholic school.

When school sexual abuse occurs, a civil lawsuit can be a means of helping a survivor secure justice and recover financial compensation.

What Damages are Recoverable in a California School Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?

Civil claims are meant to help victims secure financial compensation for past abuse. Such damages that the experienced school sexual abuse attorneys at DLG may pursue on your behalf include:

  • Emotional trauma or psychological harm
  • Counseling and therapy expenses – past and future
  • Hospital and medical care costs – past and future
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages and/or diminished future earning capacity
  • Punitive damages
  • Reduced quality of life

How Do I File a California School Sexual Abuse Lawsuit?

Recent school sexual abuse settlements highlight how survivors are taking control of their own destinies and securing justice on their own terms:

  • Victims of a former Sun Valley high school wrestling coach were awarded a $52 million settlement in October following a lawsuit alleging that the Los Angeles Unified School District was aware of prior sexual misconduct and did nothing about it.
  • A jury awarded $102.5 million in March to two women who sued a Northern California school district over officials’ failure to stop a middle school teacher from sexually grooming and abusing them as underage students.

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

File Your School Sexual Abuse Claim to Get the Justice You Deserve

Contact DLG today at 818-322-4056 to set up a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles school sexual abuse lawyers. DLG was founded by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County who obtained life sentences against some of our community’s most dangerous sexual predators.

Today, Dordulian fights for justice on behalf of school sexual abuse survivors in civil court, and he’s successfully obtained more than $100,000,000.00 in settlements and verdicts on their behalf. With over 100 jury trial victories and 25 years of experience, Dordulian leads a team of school sexual abuse lawyers dedicated to securing justice and maximum financial compensation for all survivors.


Go See Sam