In response to lawsuits filed by victims’ families alleging sexual abuse of 30 children in two different elementary schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District has agreed to pay $88 million in settlement, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The LA Times Reports settlement includes $58 million for 18 students and their families at one school and $30 million for 12 students and their families the other, and is one of the largest settlements in district history. The two lawsuits were unrelated, but the students in both case were represented by the same law firm. Each family is expected to receive approximately $3 million from the settlement.
According to the LA Times, this is the last of several multi-million dollar settlements that have come following lawsuits filed after the Miramonte sexual abuse case made national news. Miramonte teacher Mark Berndt was arrested in 2012 and convicted of committing lewd acts over the course of several years. The related settlement of $139 million came in 2014, after several other Miramonte sexual misconduct cases had already been settled for more than $30 million.
Despite the large dollar amount in the Los Angeles USD settlement, representatives of the school district reported to the LA Times that they felt relieved they can move on from the lawsuits and avoid litigation.
Two LA Teachers Accused of Sexual Abuse
According to the Los Angeles Times article noted above, this latest lawsuit involved two long-time elementary school teachers – Robert Pimental from De La Torre Elementary in Wilmington and Paul Chapel III from Telfair Elementary in Pacoima. Both are serving extended prison sentences following pleas of no contest in related criminal molestation charges filed against them.
Following the criminal convictions, the families filed lawsuits against the school district, claiming the complaints against the teachers were initially not taken seriously. According to court documents reviewed by LA Times’ reporters, Chapel continued working in the classroom for six weeks after the initial parent complaint and student confirmation that he had kissed boys and girls in class. District leaders were even aware of these complaints, but did nothing to discourage or punish Chapel’s behavior.
Unfortunately, while most teachers are dedicated and do a good job, there are some who take advantage of their position of authority and sexually abuse their students. Sexual abuse in schools – public and private – occurs in elementary, middle and high school.