Sacramento USD and City Settle Sexual Abuse Case for $52M
Sacramento and its school district have settled claims stemming from the sexual abuse of at least eight children by a former aide.
The City of Sacramento and the Sacramento Unified School District have agreed to pay more than $52 million to settle lawsuits stemming from sexual abuse committed by a former after-school aide of at least eight students who were as young as seven years old.
Joshua Rolando Vasquez formerly worked at Mark Twain Elementary School and admitted to molesting the children in a classroom. He was sentenced to 150 years to life in prison in 2016, reports the Associated Press.
The families of Vasquez’s victims sued the city and school district, alleging officials ignored repeated warning signs about Vasquez, reports the Sacramento Bee.
From 2013 to 2016, he covered the classroom’s windows with black trash bags. When asked about them by school officials, he would offer different excuses, including that the trash bags were needed to keep the sun out, so students could watch a movie, or so they could create a haunted house. In reality, the blacked-out windows were used to conceal Vasquez grooming and abusing the children in his care.
Vasquez worked as a program leader for Sacramento’s START after-school program and as a part-time employee with the school district, reports the AP.
Last week’s agreement settled claims of five of the victims for $40 million. The city will pay 60% of the settlement and the district will pay the rest. A sixth victim’s case was previously settled for $12.5 million, reports the Sacramento Bee.
Part of the settlement also called for the city to send one-page letters to the victims praising their courage for coming forward. The letters also apologized to the victims.
The cases of abuse prompted Sacramento USD to implement policy and procedural changes in 2020. Those changes include more sexual abuse and mandated reporter training; changes in how and when employees can be alone with students; and more, according to a statement from the district.
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