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Lawsuit: District failed to protect students

Posted: 7:12 PM, Mar 10, 2016
Updated: 2016-03-11 03:12:42Z

Team 10 uncovered new trouble for the Grossmont Union High School District. A lawsuit claims the district did not do enough to protect its students from a teacher accused of molestation.

James Chatham, a former drama teacher at Granite Hills High School, was charged with three counts of misdemeanor child molestation in 2014. He pleaded guilty to a lewd act in public and battery, both misdemeanors. He received three years probation and ordered to register as a sex offender last year.

There are currently three lawsuits against the district related to Chatham. Two were filed at the end of February.

The lawsuit filed by "John Roe 3" stated school administration knew about Chatham's "inappropriate conduct with minors and failed to act."

It states Chatham sexually molested one of his students, rubbing the student's "back and chest, including under his shirt." It also says Chatham grabbed his "legs and [rubbed] up his legs." It claimed the teacher "played a kissing game" and "kissed [the] victim on the lips one time."

A district spokesperson said she is unable to comment about the lawsuit. She did release this statement to Team 10 about what happened to Chatham when those allegations surfaced: 

Mr. Chatham was immediately placed on leave and was not allowed back on campus at the time that the school was notified of the allegations against him. While Mr. Chatham was on leave and the El Cajon Police Department was investigating the allegations, the District proceeded with Charges for Dismissal, as required by Education Code, and ultimately dismissed Mr. Chatham from employment at the District.

GUHSD also notified The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) of the dismissal and the charges pending against Mr. Chatham, which ultimately lead the CCTC to revoke his teaching credentials.