Civil lawsuit filed against Rock Church Academy over allegations of child sex abuse

SAN DIEGO - A Team10 investigation has uncovered new information about allegations of child sex abuse involving a former Rock Church Academy school teacher. 

Attorney Stephen Estey confirmed he filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of four alleged child victims. The lawsuit claims that the Rock Academy failed to protect the children and violated a legal responsibility to report suspicions of abuse as soon as they became aware. 

Latisha and Mel Zamora say their daughter was molested by the teacher in a Rock Church Academy classroom. She was in the first grade.

"She kept apologizing to me and asking me not to be ashamed of her," said Mel Zamora.

Latisha Zamora said, "She told me, 'Mommy, he did molest me. I tried to keep it together, but I wanted to run, scream and die.'"

Estey said there may be more victims. He said he knows of two who will not join the suit due to religious reasons. 

"The Academy's official press release says they did nothing wrong," he told Team10. We have evidence they did do something very wrong."

Team10 is not revealing the teacher's name because he has not been criminally charged. 

The Zamoras say their daughter was assaulted during "movie time." The same story was reported by Vanessa and Jose Rodriguez, who are also part of the civil suit filed by Estey. The families are angry and forever scarred.

"I saw red," said Jose Rodriguez. "I wanted to hurt someone so bad. I am just a father who couldn't protect his daughter."

Vanessa Rodriguez said, "She explained the teacher put his hands up her shirt and he would rub her legs and the inside of her legs and bottom and hold her tight and wouldn't let her go. This happened every Friday on movie day."

The families both report that a teacher walked in on the abuse in a dark classroom, nearly a year before the accused teacher was terminated.

"My daughter said the teacher that walked in was so startled the girls fell off his lap and the teacher felt it was not right and was uncomfortable and reported it to the school," said Latisha Zamora.

A spokeswoman for the Rock Church released the following statement to Team10 on Monday evening:

"The Rock Church has not seen a copy of any civil complaint.  We understand there continues to be an ongoing investigation by the authorities and we do not know the status of that investigation, but will continue to cooperate as we have from the beginning.

Since we became aware of this deeply disturbing situation, we have attempted to provide the families with professional care and support, as well as the support from our ministry. Out of respect for the privacy of those involved and having not been informed of any new action, we cannot comment further. We do ask everyone to continue to pray for the families and ask for God's help during this difficult time."

In an earlier written statement, pastor Miles McPherson said this about the situation:

"This is a deeply disturbing situation that has transpired over the course of the last two years. It's a sensitive story because it impacts children, parents and teachers. 

In February 2010, after reports of a breach of Academy protocols by the teacher, the church confirmed the behavior and his employment was promptly terminated. The church also immediately forwarded the information to the San Diego Police Department."

Detective Gary Hassan, who is with the San Diego Police Department, told Team10, "After a very lengthy and exhaustive investigation, it is now under review by the District Attorney's office."

The teacher in question also worked at Horizon Christian Academy in San Diego.

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