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La Jolla Bishop's grad files sex abuse suit following accusations by multiple alumni

Posted at 6:15 PM, Feb 18, 2021

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) – In an exclusive interview, a former student of an elite private school in La Jolla is suing after claiming that she was repeatedly sexually abused by her former teacher.

ABC10 News first broke this story three years ago after learning about claims that several former employees had inappropriate relationships with several former students, spanning three decades.

The Bishop's School's spokesperson said that campus officials are reviewing this new lawsuit.

The spokesperson added that the school had taken steps to investigate all alleged incidents of sexual abuse, including retaining a third-party investigator and sharing all findings with the police.

"I stuffed the feelings. I stuffed the pain," she told ABC10 News. This station is not identifying the alleged victim.

"He was married at the time of my sexual abuse, and that was really my first sexual connection with a human being," she revealed. She's a graduate of The Bishop's School.

"Parents who are trying to send their kid to school, they have a right to the full picture," she added.

Her attorney said that both the private school and her former teacher are the accused defendants in the new lawsuit that was filed in November.

ABC10 News is not naming the former teacher because he has not been criminally charged and is not identified by name in the complaint.

"This is a lawsuit over the pain and suffering that a lifetime of carrying the scars of childhood sexual abuse have brought upon this plaintiff," said attorney Taylor Boren.

She first broke her silence with ABC10 News in the summer of 2019. In that interview, she described having sex with her then-teacher in his house.

She said that their relationship turned sexual when she was a minor and about 17-years-old.

During the spring of 2019, this station reported that the school announced that since 2017, 14 alumni reported incidences of sexual misconduct, and "ten different perpetrators were identified as having engaged in sexual misconduct that would potentially constitute a crime at the time of occurrence."

None of the accused were reportedly still with the school, and at least two had passed away.

The school stated that there were no reported cases within the last 20 years. The school added that most of the cases were from the 70s and 80s, like the alleged victim who ABC10 News interviewed.

"The culture at Bishop's was either to turn a blind eye or do nothing with the information," stated Boren.

The school confirmed that the San Diego Police Department received several allegations for review, but only three people filed police reports. This month, police confirmed that three cases are with the DA's Office for review, but the DA has declined to pursue them for reasons that it reportedly cannot discuss but added that it can only file when it believes that it can prove a case beyond reasonable doubt.

Boren said that his client could not pursue civil litigation until last year when a new law passed that changed the statute of limitations.

His firm also represented another former student in a child sexual abuse suit against the school that he says settled last year for $1.4 million. The Bishop's School confirmed to ABC10 News that the matter was settled and there was no finding or admission of wrongdoing.

The new lawsuit alleges "sexual battery" and "negligent supervision", among other complaints. The plaintiff also accuses The Bishop's School of keeping her in the dark during the investigation.

"They basically stirred the pot and then left us sitting there and I find that reprehensible," she added.

A school spokesperson wrote in part, "We are reviewing this new lawsuit, which was filed very recently. While we cannot comment on pending litigation, we are always concerned when someone alleges abuse while they were a student at our school."

The school added that an independent investigation was conducted, shared with police, and communicated to the community members and alumni.

The school reportedly created a 24/7 anonymous reporting line. The spokesperson wrote in part, "We remain deeply grateful for those alumni who had the courage to come forward and share their stories."

The attorney who's representing the former teacher declined an interview but wrote to ABC10 News, "We have no idea why the plaintiff would choose to level such inflammatory and defamatory claims nearly 30 years after the alleged incident. We categorically deny the allegations in the complaint."

ABC10 News confirmed that the former teacher is currently working as an instructor with the San Diego Community College District.

"I really hope that my coming forward and taking this action and talking to you [will] empower others to come forward and do whatever they need to do to heal," added the alleged victim.

The Bishop's School reports that it also implemented several programs, training, and policies to protect students. For the complete questions and answers between the school and ABC10 News, read below.

Q: In May of 2019, we reported that The Bishop's School investigated numerous claims of sexual abuse at the campus. The school said in part that "14 alumni have come forward to report incidents of sexual misconduct." The school also reported then that "ten different perpetrators were identified as having engaged in sexual misconduct that would potentially constitute a crime at the time of occurrence." What is the status of the school's investigation and SDPD's involvement in the investigation?

A: As we shared with our School community in May 2019, an independent investigator completed the investigations of all reports. The school referred 10 reports of alleged sexual misconduct by former School employees involving former students to the San Diego Police Department. The school then fully cooperated with the police department in its investigation. Three of the reports were then sent by the police department to the District Attorney's office for prosecutorial review. Detective Carole Beason of the San Diego Police Department can be contacted for any questions related to SDPD's investigations and case referrals.

We continue to provide a 24/7 anonymous reporting line and email address for past and present students to report misconduct or abuse. We have not received any additional reports in the past several years.

Q: What has the school done to address the impact on the alleged victims?

A: We have taken steps to investigate all alleged incidents of sexual misconduct and abuse, retaining a third-party investigator to conduct an independent investigation, and sharing the final reports with local law enforcement.

Q: What response does the school have to the new lawsuit? More specifically, what response does the school have to the complaint for damages for intentionally inflicting emotional distress, sexual harassment, sexual battery, negligence, negligent supervision, and negligent failure to warn, train or educate? What response does the school plan to file in court? Does the school deny the allegations?

A: We are reviewing this new lawsuit, which was filed very recently. While we cannot comment on pending litigation, we are always concerned when someone alleges abuse while they were a student at our school.

Q: How has the school communicated with the alleged victims about the status of the investigation? Has the school offered support? If so, how? The alleged victim in this suit claims that the school failed to communicate with her after she was notified of the investigation, subsequently opening a traumatic wound, and never covering it. What's the school's response?

A: While we cannot provide specifics due to litigation and privacy concerns, The Bishop's School has communicated with our community members through a series of letters and encouraged anyone who may have been subjected to sexual misconduct to report that to the school and/or law enforcement. Those who did come forward had the opportunity to speak with our independent investigator.

In May 2019, we notified our community members of the results of the independent investigation. The school referred 10 reports of alleged sexual misconduct by former School employees including students to the San Diego Police Department. The SDPD then conducted its own investigation with which we cooperated. We refer you to Detective Carole Beason for additional questions related to SDPD's investigations and case referrals.

Q: The victim in this suit accuses the school of failing to take accountability for its role in handling the decades of alleged abuse of all the victims. What is the school's response?

A: The Bishop's School takes these matters very seriously and has openly communicated with our community members, making clear that any incident of sexual misconduct by a School employee against a student, past or present, is intolerable.

We have proactively encouraged alumni to come forward if they experienced or were aware of sexual abuse or misconduct while attending the school, providing a 24/7 anonymous reporting line and email address. An independent investigation was conducted and its results communicated to our community members and shared with local law enforcement. We remain deeply grateful for those alumni who had the courage to come forward and share their stories.

Additionally, The Bishop's School has implemented a number or programs, trainings and policies including:

· Training for faculty and staff on issues relating to boundaries, professional roles, mandated reporting, sexual assault, healthy relationships and other relevant topics

· Mandatory reporting where there is a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect, which includes sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual exploitation

· Updated student and employee handbooks with new policies pertaining to sexual harassment and sexual misconduct

· Health, counseling and wellness services to support and guide students, facilitating self-understanding and developing interpersonal relationships as well as problem-solving and decision-making skills

· Expanding upon our peer support program

· Educational programs for students to promote emotional and physical wellness, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion

· Age-appropriate trainings for students addressing sexual assault, violence and healthy relationships"