CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) – For the first time, former Chula Vista High School students walk past the camera, claiming they were sexually assaulted by a former teacher and the district should have done more to stop his actions . Young women are now taking their complaints to court.
âI’m ruined by this. Everything that happened is still with me, âone of the women told ABC 10News. ABC 10News does not show her face or share her name as she says she was sexually assaulted by her teacher while still underage at school around 2015. ABC 10News does not name him because he was not criminally charged.
“[He had been] putting his hands in my shirt and behind my back [and] check the bra straps. He would ask me what I was wearing, like what specific underwear I was wearing, âshe added.
She and another young woman are now suing Sweetwater Union High School District and two of its senior administrators for negligent supervision, among other complaints.
The district denies any wrongdoing.
“For years, [the teacher] openly and blatantly committed acts of sexual harassment against his students, âwe read in part in the trial.
âThere were so many red flags,â lawyer Jessica Pride said. She represents two of the three alleged victims. “This was reported to the deputy principal and the principal of the school who then opened an investigation,” she added.
ABC 10News obtained a copy of the 2017 District Inquiry which in part indicated that the investigator concluded that the teacher’s conduct was “sexual in nature” and was “both invasive and serious” and “created a hostile and intimidating environment for the three complainants.
“I feel like it got worse over time,” said the second woman represented by Pride. âHe was hitting us on the buttocks. It was in class. He would call us into his office and touch our thighs. It was in class, âshe added.
She shared screenshots of texts she said he sent her. “He finally started texting me ‘kissing’ faces and ‘I love you. Where were you today I miss you. I can’t wait to see you again, âshe told ABC 10News.
She said he took her and another student to the mall to buy outfits for a school event and while they were there she said he forced her to try on tight clothes. âI tried on at least 20 dresses and he photographed them all from all angles,â she said.
Recalling that memory, she burst into tears and interrupted the interview.
“It was so damaging, just knowing all the things he would say to me and [he would] reducing myself to just being good for my body, âsaid the first woman who added that her behavior had made her feel suicidal. âMy mental health was getting really bad at this point,â she added.
In response to the findings of the school district investigation in 2017, the school district investigator interviewed the former teacher who denied the allegations and claimed that the investigation and its findings were flawed.
The Chula Vista Police Department confirmed that its officers also investigated the case and sent their findings to the prosecutor’s office, which declined to prosecute.
The prosecutor’s office said, âThe Chula Vista Police Department submitted their investigation to our office in early 2017. It was carefully reviewed and we refused to file a complaint in April 2017. As you may know , when we refuse to lay criminal charges, it is because we do not believe that we can prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt or overcome other legal hurdles, which is our ethical standard for criminal prosecutions, and which is naturally higher than the civil standard of “preponderance of evidence”. In the years that followed, our office conducted two more evidence reviews, but still was unable to lay criminal charges. “
According to the lawsuit, the district accepted a resignation agreement, showing in part that the teacher would get paid time off for the remainder of the 2017 to 2018 school year, before resigning.
It says that “none of the parties will comment [publicly] about the investigation, “and in response to any inquiries, district staff reportedly say that he has” voluntarily resigned from the district, and we wish him good luck. “
ABC 10News has requested copies of internal staff emails.
When it emerged that a teacher was asking how to answer student and parent questions, the administrator wrote in part that “staff matters are confidential.”
In response to the lawsuit the women have filed against the Sweetwater Union School District and administrators, the district has filed documents that it generally denies the allegations.
A statement sent to ABC 10News by a spokesperson for the district read: âWhile it is general district practice not to comment on pending litigation in order to uphold the privacy rights of everyone involved, and is saddened that the complainants claim they were harmed as a result of the conduct of a former employee, he disagrees with the allegation in the lawsuit that the district took inappropriate action when he has reached an agreement to accept the employee’s resignation. Law enforcement and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing have been made aware of the allegations against the employee, and no entity has determined that the allegations are sufficient to warrant adverse action.
ABC 10News tried to contact the former teacher directly for comment, but had no response.
He continued to work locally as an educator at the Christian Youth Theater (CYT), the El Cajon company which is mired in controversy over allegations of sexual abuse from various educators.
In 2018, CYT confirmed to ABC 10News that it works for them, writing in part: âThe district of Sweetwater gave no indication that he was under investigation when we checked his references. None of our students have ever complained of questionable behavior on the part of [him]. “
He no longer works there. CYT did not respond to recent emails from ABC 10News.
He also worked at Lakeside Middle School. The Lakeside Union School District superintendent wrote to ABC 10News in part: âI cannot confirm whether Sweetwater shared the information with the district prior to his employment. I know the Lakeside Union School District employed this person for a very short time. When the news came out with the story of the investigation, the neighborhood parted ways with the employee.
“The idea of ââthis happening to someone else is infuriating,” added the second woman interviewed by ABC 10News.
It is not known if he currently teaches elsewhere. The state agency that oversees accreditation wrote to ABC 10News that it does not keep real-time employment data.