Taylor & Ring Secures $25 Million Sexual Abuse Verdict Against Santa Barbara Unified School District

On December 11th, Taylor and Ring secured a $25 million award verdict against Santa Barbara Unified School District for the sexual abuse committed against a victim referred to as John Doe #2. The convicted abuser was former security guard and assistant football coach Justin Sell at Dos Pueblos High School. John Doe #2 had testified that the abuse began when he was 14 years old in 2008, and continued until 2011.

Mr. Sell was not the only one held at fault in this case, as 80% of the blame was apportioned to Santa Barbara Unified School District. The school district knew of the inappropriate behavior (including sexual and physical assault) that Mr. Sell was accused of against more than just one student, and neglected to report the incidents to the police as is required by state law. Instead of reporting the assault, the school elected to enter into a confidential resignation agreement, that allowed for Mr. Sell to be given a “neutral” recommendation when applying to future jobs.

Attorney John Taylor stated, “The school district and its employees had multiple missed opportunities to get rid of a person they acknowledged was a problematic employee. They repeatedly chose to protect the employee over the safety of the kids.”

When the verdict came back in favor of the plaintiff, another one of our esteemed attorneys on the case, Natalie Weatherford, summed up the final decision of the case succinctly: “The jury recognized the lifelong harm that childhood sexual abuse inflicts on its victims. The verdict represents a step forward in the young life of the Plaintiff and validation that the abuse was not his fault.”

Taylor & Ring have long represented abused students in the school systems

Taylor and Ring understands that while schools are meant to be safe environments of learning and social development, school administration and their decisions can be fraught with error and corruption. Teachers and staff are meant to be trustworthy leaders and guides to those under their care, but in unfortunate circumstances that happen too often, can become abusers who take advantage of their power over their students.

When that happens, we are there to stand up for these students, ensuring that they are justly represented and fought for. In the past, we have succeeded in securing the rightful restitution for these victims:

  • $102M verdict for two students who were sexually abused and groomed by their band teacher Samuel Neipp, a former music teacher at Dartmouth Middle School.
  • $100M settlement for multiple plaintiffs in the Santa Monica PAL/Eric Uller abuse case where the City of Santa Monica covered up the abuse.
  • $25.3M verdict for a 13-year-old boy who 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 for 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 for a boy who had been sexually abused by a teacher off school premises. The school district previously received an anonymous letter warning that the teacher was acting improperly with boys.
  • $10M settlement in a 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.
  • $7.9M settlement for a woman who was sexually abused by a teacher at Grover Cleveland Charter High School during her time as a student.

We are deeply committed to advocating for survivors of sexual abuse and assault, especially when those acts occur in our schools by trusted teachers and staff. We won’t back down. If a similar instance of unjust was perpetrated against you when you were a student, you deserve to be heard and you deserve justice. When you’re ready, we’ll be here to fight for you.

Remember, you’re not alone. If you or a loved one has experienced sexual abuse by a teacher, counselor, coach, or any other school district employee in California, our Los Angeles attorneys are here to help. Contact Taylor & Ring today by calling us or using our contact form for a free consultation with an experienced attorney. We have offices in Los Angeles and Manhattan Beach. We also proudly serve all of Southern California.