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Why Sexual Abuse in California Public and Private Schools Goes Largely Unreported
Because there’s no national database tracks instances of sexual abuse of students by employees in K-12 public or private schools, it’s impossible to quantify the extent of the problem in America’s schools .
But evidence in the pages of newspapers and online news sites across the country suggests that the issue is something close to an epidemic.
It is lawfully required California school administrators, teachers, and staff alert authorities to suspicions about sexual abuse of underage students.
However, some California school educators choose to ignore that duty in order to keep things quiet rather than “ruin lives” of co-workers and suffer the mark of bad publicity.
That decision means that underaged victims of sexual abuse are settling lawsuits with school districts that has costed taxpayers more than $313 million in the past seven years.
Here are just a few of the statistics connecting sexual misconduct to California public and private schools.
1 in 10 students will experience sexual misconduct from a school official by the time they graduate from high school.
Positions that are typically perpetrators of sexual abuse include general education teachers (68%), coaches (21%), and music/art teachers (9%).
Locations of sexual abuse against students include at school or during school events (53%), outside of school (53%), and online (19%).
The perpetrators are typically male (67%), white (78%), with an average age of 36 years old.
The Southern California News Group studied nearly 1,900 pages of documents and more than 100 hours of recorded police interviews to reveal a more than decade-long pattern of covered sex abuse allegations.
Recent Notable Sexual Abuse Cases Against California Public and Private Schools
Because of the California Child Victims Act, there is a unique opportunity for survivors of sexual abuse to pursue justice, with no regard for a statute of limitations of any kind.
- Bellarmine College Preparatory School: Suits filed under the California Child Victims Act (AB 218) against Bellarmine College Preparatory School (Diocese of San Jose), the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and the Society of Jesus for child sexual assault by Brother William C. Farrington, S.J., who worked at the school in the 1960s and 1970s.
- Mater Dei High School: Multiple suits against Mater Dei, a prestigious private school in Santa Ana that was home to multiple child sexual assault offenders throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and the Diocese of Orange for the actions of known perpetrator Monsignor Michael Harris and its role in the institutional cover-up of child sexual assault.
- La Habra High School: A suit against Fullerton Joint Union High School District for childhood sexual assault by Charles “Chuck” Ritz III, a math teacher, soccer coach, and surf club advisor at La Habra High School from 1986 to 2016.
- St. Francis High School: Multiple suits against Saint Francis High School (La Canada Flintridge, CA); the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin; and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for child sexual assault by one of its religious order priests – Father Christopher Kearney O.F.M.Cap. – who worked at the school between 1970-1995.
- Sonoma Academy: Sonoma Academy released a 2021 report alleging humanities teacher Marco Marrone, who was employed by Sonoma Academy from 2002 to 2020, sexually harassed or acted inappropriately with at least 34 female students.
The Shield Case Justice team believes that victims of sexual abuse should be able to address these California public and private institutions that were allegedly the source of the abuse and get the compensation and justice.
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