The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has agreed to a $7.9 million settlement with a woman who was sexually abused by a teacher at Grover Cleveland Charter High School during her time as a student. This is the fourth lawsuit LAUSD has settled this year because of sexual assault and abuse cases involving the Grover Cleveland Charter High School. The total amount of the awards is $15.1 million.
Partners John C. Taylor and Brendan P. Gilbert represented the woman in her sexual abuse lawsuit. When our client was a teenager, she attended the prestigious humanities magnet program at the school. There, she was groomed and abused by teachers Chris Miller (now deceased) and Vivian Atkin, who were carrying on an extra-marital affair of their own. As the Los Angeles Times reports:
Throughout her senior year in 2001, the woman alleged, she would often leave school early with one or both teachers. In January of that year, Miller began sexually abusing her at his home, she said. In May 2001, she alleged, while Atkin’s husband was out of town, Miller and the girl went to Atkin’s Brentwood apartment, and both teachers sexually abused the teen simultaneously and then forced her to watch Atkin engage in sexual relations with Miller.
“Outrageously, the district’s lawyers argued, because the sex did not happen on campus, the district didn’t have a responsibility,” John Taylor told the LA Times. “They ignored the grooming and manipulation that occurred on campus.”
Our clients are not the only survivors of abuse by Core Program teachers
Five teachers – Miller, Atkin, Richard Coleman, Brett Shufelt, and William Paden – have been named in lawsuits against the school and the district, alleging a long history of abuse. Yet nothing was done for decades to put a stop to the abuse, or to help the victims. Some examples of the misconduct include:
- Miller exposed his underwear to his class and unzipped his pants in front of a student.
- Miller wrote inappropriate letters to two different students during his tenure as a teacher.
- Miller coerced a student into a sexual relationship AND into not reporting it.
- Coleman manipulated a student into a sexual relationship.
Between 2006 and 2009, additional accusations were made against Shufelt (for abusing a student) and Paden. The lawsuit against Shufelt was settled, but the claims against Paden (who was convicted of misdemeanor statutory rape in 2009) are, per the Times, not yet resolved.
Taylor & Ring’s history of fighting back against LAUSD and California school districts
Taylor & Ring has advocated for survivors of sexual abuse, assault, and rape for years; we understand what goes into presenting cases like these. In particular, we have fought back against LAUSD and other school districts who choose to ignore the laws and protect the abusers, rather than the children entrusted to their care. We have secured millions of dollars for our clients, including:
- $102.5 million in total against Union School District for victims of Samuel Neipp. Attorney Lauren A. Cerri of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard worked with Taylor & Ring partner Natalie Weatherford on these cases.
- $25.3 million against the Westerly School in Long Beach, for a young boy who was subject to almost daily abuse
- $10.8 million for a boy who was abused by his teacher off school premises – a teacher about whom the school has already received warnings
- $10 million against Lucia Mar Unified School District on behalf of a special needs child who was sexually abused
- $5 million against LAUSD for a 13-year-old student who was sexually abused by her 30-year-old math teacher, Elkis Hermida. At the time, it was the largest payout by LAUSD.
We also recently secured a $27 million settlement against Moreno Valley USD on behalf of Diego Stoltz’s guardians. Diego was killed at school by his bullies, and the school took no action to prevent it.
This advocacy is deeply personal to us. That’s why we will continue to fight for survivors of abuse and rape and will continue to fight on behalf of childhood victims of assault. Whether it’s a school district like LAUSD, a powerful member of the media, a worldwide religious organization, or a government agency, we will not back down. When you are ready to tell your story and take back your power, we will be here to fight for justice for you.
You are not alone. Our attorneys in Los Angeles are ready to help if you or your loved one was sexually abused by a teacher, counselor, coach, or any other employee of a school district in California. Call or contact Taylor & Ring today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney.
John C. Taylor is one of the most accomplished and nationally recognized trial lawyers in California. The broad variety of cases he has tried during his career is matched by few attorneys, trying more than 125 cases to verdict, including: police shootings and civil rights, sexual abuse, serious personal injury, wrongful death, products liability, insurance bad faith, and employment.
Read more about John C. Taylor.