LAUSD Reaches $88M Settlement in Sex Misconduct Cases

The cases involved 30 children from two different elementary schools in the district.

The Los Angeles Unified School District settled a massive sexual abuse case that involved 30 children and led to policy changes amid accusations that child abuse is ongoing in the system.

The $88 million dollar settlement, the district’s second largest lawsuit payment ever, stems from teacher abuse scandals at De Law Torre Elementary School and Telfair Avenue Elementary School.

In both cases, prosecutors alleged that administrators failed to properly respond to abuse accusations against veteran teachers, putting dozens of additional students at risk, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The teachers involved in the abuse scandals, Paul Chapel III of Telfair Avenue and Robert Pimentel of De Law Torre, were both found to have abused children in earlier trials. Chapel pleaded no contest to abusing 12 students over a decade and is serving a 25 year prison sentence. Pimentel pleaded no contest to sexually assaulting four girls and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

“We feel this is an ongoing problem in L.A. Unified and we hope this amount of money will promote a change of heart and change of attitude when it comes to victims,” Attorney John Manly, who represents many of the victims and their families, says.

The administrators accused of neglecting the abuse, including former LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and former District Principal Irene Hinojosa, have denied any wrongdoing.

RELATED: Former Police Sergeant, School Employee Convicted of Sexual Assault

The cases, along with a high profile abuse case at Miramonte Elementary School, prompted policy changes in the district to improve documentation and tracking of allegations against employees. Training is also now being provided to staff members to better recognize and report abuse.

Additionally, the district has set up a special investigations unit to handle abuse allegations.

“We’re glad that we’re able to resolve both of these cases so we can avoid potentially painful litigation and put these cases behind us,” says Gregory McNair, a senior attorney with L.A. Unified. “We’re turning a corner here because we’ve resolved the last two very large cases that were involving the district.”

Read Next: How to Respond to Suspected Child Abuse

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