Ex-Students and Cheerleaders Allege Grooming and Assault by Pomona High Coaches

Ex-Students and Cheerleaders Allege Grooming and Assault by Pomona High CoachesNatalie Weatherford of Taylor and Ring is representing several Jane Does in a lawsuit filed against the Pomona Unified School District (PUSD), Pomona High School (PHS), and several members of its coaching staff. No less than eight women are alleging sexual abuse, assault, and grooming during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The suit alleges these students were groomed and assaulted by the men, while several other coaches and administrators were aware of the abuse, but watched and did nothing.

As Attorney Weatherford bluntly told the LA Times, “Pomona High School had a prolific problem with childhood sexual abuse in the mid- to late ’90s and early 2000s.”

What happened to our Jane Does

A total of eight Jane Does have taken legal action against PUSD and the coaches in question. The latest lawsuit, which includes Jane Does 5, 6, and 7, alleges a wide variety of sexual abuse and grooming.

Court documents tell Jane Doe No. 5’s story – how she entered PHS as a freshman in 1996 and met girls’ basketball coach Brian Crichlow, who per the LA Times, “invited her to spend time with him in an office shared by the coaches, at campus events and at coaches’ homes.” The sexual abuse began when she was only 14 and she left the school after a year as she could “no longer deal with the abuse and harassment.”

Still, Attorney Weatherford notes Crichlow continued to contact her for years, through “texts, social media and by asking other people to check on her.”

Jane Doe No. 6’s story began in 1993 at PHS when she was a freshman, cheerleader, and track athlete. She alleges she was groomed and abused by Herman Hopson and Derick Pugh. The LA Times reports:

Like Crichlow, Hopson invited the girl inside the coaches’ office and the boys’ locker room, the lawsuit says. He allegedly gave her alcohol and marijuana while on campus.

Worse? Court documents state PUSD staff and administrators were aware of the contact between Jane Does 5 and 6 and Crichlow, Hopson, and Pugh – and “failed to do anything.”

Jane Doe No. 7’s story is sadly similar to the rest. She entered as a freshman for the 1994-95 school year and, per the LA Times, “quickly became aware of underage drinking condoned by coaches and sexual relationships between coaches and players on campus and on athletic trips.” By the time she was 15 years old and a junior, basketball coach Vincent Spirlin sexually abused her – abuse that continued into her senior year.

It’s worth noting that Spirlin continued coaching (and working with high school girls) up until at least 2020.

The Pomona Unified School District did issue a statement on February 9, which said in part:

While there is a presumption of innocence in matters of this nature, the District takes these allegations with the utmost seriousness. Out of an abundance of caution, the District is launching its own investigation and has removed the staff member from Ganesha High School’s campus, placing them on leave during the process and pending the outcome. Meanwhile, the District is participating in the legal process. As always, our effort is to attend to the protection of students on our campuses as a priority.

To us, however, it’s glaringly obvious that the grooming and sexual assault was happening out in the open and the school wasn’t doing anything about it. As attorneys and parents ourselves, the fact that these predators continued to work with vulnerable children is shocking.

“For the women, this is about holding the school accountable, holding the coaches accountable,” Attorney Weatherford said, “and to be compensated for this trauma.”

A note about AB 218

The former students are able to sue under California Assembly Bill 218, which went into effect in 2020 and expanded protections and rights for childhood victims of sexual assault. This three-year window gives victims of abuse more time to file lawsuits over childhood sexual abuse.

Now, per the LA Times, “thousands of lawsuits alleging abuse as far back as the 1940s have been filed against dozens of organizations, including religious groups, private and public schools, sports groups and nonprofit organizations.” After the window closes, people older than 40 will once again be barred from filing lawsuits seeking compensation for abuse suffered as children and teenagers.

How Taylor & Ring can help

The attorneys at Taylor & Ring are dedicated to helping survivors of sexual assault and abuse. We want to hear your story, and we want to help. Just a few of our successes for people just like you include:

  • $102M Verdict. Two students were sexually abused and groomed by their band teacher Samuel Neipp, a former music teacher at Dartmouth Middle School.
  • $100M Settlement. The firm represented multiple plaintiffs in the Santa Monica PAL/Eric Uller abuse case. The City of Santa Monica covered up the abuse.
  • $25.3M Verdict. A 13-year-old boy was abused almost daily by a supervisor at the Westerly School in Long Beach, California. Despite suspicions of abuse by one former employee, and incidents involving other teachers, none of this behavior is ever reported to the police. Stephen W. v. Westerly School of Long Beach
  • $14M Settlement. Two adult women sexually abused by their middle school teacher recovered the largest “per victim” settlement in the nation: $7 million each.
  • $10.8M Verdict. Boy sexually abused by teacher off school premises. School district previously received anonymous letter warning that teacher was acting improperly with boys.
  • $10M Settlement. Sexual abuse case brought on behalf of a minor with special needs who was sexually abused by her bus driver. Jane Doe v. Lucia Mar Unified School District, et al.

To speak with an attorney from Taylor & Ring, please call our Los Angeles offices or fill out our contact form. We offer a no-cost, no-obligation, confidential consultations. Let us fight for you just as we have fought for so many others throughout Southern California.