Victim Awarded $8M in Teacher Sexual Abuse Case

Lawyers for the plaintiff argued the district failed to report the abuse and inadequately supervisised of the teacher.

A California school district was ordered to pay $8 million to a former student who was sexually abused by her middle school teacher in 2011.

The May 11 announcement against the Pomona Unified School District is believed to be the largest verdict in the history of the state for a single-victim sexual abuse case, according to the Orange County Register.

The lawsuit named former Lorbeer Middle School Principal Krystana Walks-Harper and former teacher Steven Andrews as the defendants. Andrews, 43, was sentenced to 15 years and 18 months in state prison in 2014.

The case was sparked by revelations of a five month relationship Andrews had with a 14-year-old student during the 2010-11 school year.

At one point during that year, Principal Walks-Harper noticed Andrews and the victim were both absent from school on the same day and later witnessed the two walking up the sidewalk toward the school with a school security officer. It was discovered later that Andrews had taken the student to his home and had sex with her.

Records show that Walks-Harper spoke with District Superintendent Stephanie Baker about Andrews’ behavior at least twice, but the incident was never reported to law enforcement. Eventually, another teacher at the school told his wife about the incident, and she reported it to a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy.

Attorneys for the victim argued that inadequate supervision and failure to contact Child Protective Services led to the abuse. The attorneys also said teachers noticed Andrews’ inappropriate behavior with female students as far back as 2001.

RELATED: How to Respond to Suspected Child Abuse

The district released a statement stating that Andrews was fired immediately upon the discovery of his actions and assuring parents that student safety was their primary concern. The district also says it performs background checks on prospective employees and monitors their records for updates.

“This jury sent a wake-up call to California educators who ignore the red flags of child abuse and fail to protect kids at school,” lead attorney John Taylor says.

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