Legal Question in Sexual Harassment in California

daughter groped by teacher

Just recently my daughter,16 years old, was groped by her Teacher while kneeling down to grab a book from the book shelf. This same teacher had made innappropriate statements to my daughter prior to this incident. The day after this incident ocurred, my daughter did not return to school. Her teacher called my daughter on her cell phone (he requested all students cell phone #--name removed--8+ times that day asking why she did not come in telling her that she held his career in her hands. He also mentioned the incident which he considered, ''a bump'' and asked if she was upset by it. My daughter will not be returning to that school and I have already met with a school advisor regarding this. What options, if any, do I have regarding this??? Should I seek legal counsel? Upon meeting with the school, they told me the outcome of their investigation would be confidential, even to me and my daughter; is that true???? Please advise.

Asked on 2/04/05, 4:34 pm

5 Answers from Attorneys

Benjamin Berger Berger-Harrison, A Professional Corporation
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Re: daughter groped by teacher

Your daughter has a civil case for battery. Feel free to call to discuss.

-Ben

949-548-1700

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2/16/05, 8:21 pm
Robert F. Cohen Law Office of Robert F. Cohen
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Re: daughter groped by teacher

Make sure to get a copy of the cell phone bill that covered that day to show that he called her. Teachers generally don't call their students on the cell phone.

The teacher (and perhaps the district) likely violated Education Code section 212.5 which states: "§ 212.5. Sexual harassment: 'Sexual harassment' means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, made by someone from or in the work or educational setting, under any of the following conditions:

(a) Submission to the conduct is explicitly or implicitly made a term or a condition of an individual's employment, academic status, or progress.

(b) Submission to, or rejection of, the conduct by the individual is used as the basis of employment or academic decisions affecting the individual.

(c) The conduct has the purpose or effect of having a negative impact upon the individual's work or academic performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment.

(d) Submission to, or rejection of, the conduct by the individual is used as the basis for any decision affecting the individual regarding benefits and services, honors, programs, or activities available at or through the educational institution.

Also, see Education Code section 230, 231.5, and 253, among others. I agree with my colleague that it also constitutes battery.

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2/16/05, 8:36 pm
Michael Kirschbaum Law Offices of Michael R. Kirschbaum
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Re: daughter groped by teacher

To add to what my colleagues have said and to answer your question, the reason the District will not reveal the outcome of the investigation is because it is a personnel matter and is considered private and confidential. One way to remove the cloak of privacy is to report the matter to the police. If they agree to conduct an investigation, that would not be private and confidential.

Naturally, your daughter, through you as her guardian could file a civil suit against the teacher, and your attorney would conduct an investigation during the course of the case. If there is evidence that the District either knew, or should have known that this teacher has a history of inappropriate conduct and failed to protect its students, it could be sued and held liable for damages as well.

Whether you need an attorney depends on what you want to do with this.

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2/16/05, 8:54 pm
Donald Holben Donald R. Holben & Associates, APC
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Re: daughter groped by teacher

My recommendation is that you do all possible to protect your daughter's interests first, ie., counseling, etc. You should probably seek attorney meeting also as to rights/actions. You certainly have right to report to police and to file civil lawsuit. An initial meeting with an attorney in our office is without charge as is same with many offices. I also house criminal attorney who could meet with you and your family to discuss likely happenings should you choose to file complaint with police, etc. If we can help in any way, do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience. 800-685-6950

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2/17/05, 11:29 am
A. Russell Martin Law Office of A. Russell Martin
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Re: daughter groped by teacher

Hi,

As a father of two daughters, I first want to convey my sympathy to you and your family. Our children should be able to feel safe at school and it’s truly a tragedy that your daughter was harmed by a man that she should have been able to trust! My heart goes out to you.

Professionally, I concur with the advice previously posted by my colleagues. You should immediately report this incident to the police to initiate a criminal investigation of the teacher’s sexual battery. You should also immediately call me or another attorney to discuss commencing a civil action against the teacher and/or the school. You have viable causes of action for sexual harassment, pursuant to Education Code section 212.5, et. seq., and common law torts such as battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, etc.

Be advised that you only have six months from the date of the incident to bring an action against a government entity like a public school system, so you must act immediately.

You should also preserve all evidence such as the phone bill reflecting the teacher’s call to your daughter’s cell phone and any other documents showing strange contact by the teacher. Lastly, I would recommend that your daughter immediately write down all of the events while they are fresh in her mind. She should also keep an ongoing journal memorializing the pain and suffering she has experienced from this situation (e.g., insomnia, fear of attending classes, etc.).

I hope this helps and God Bless you folks!

Russ

_________________________________________________

A. Russell Martin, Esq. (SBN 226244)

Law Office of A. Russell Martin

31 Reed Blvd., Suite 9D

Mill Valley, CA 94941

Phone: (415) 364-1604

Fax: (877) 481-0937

E-Mail: LitigatorSF@Justice.com

DISCLAIMER: This reply does not constitute legal advice. The Law Office of A. Russell Martin (hereinafter “Attorney”) cannot render a considered legal opinion based on the limited information provided, so you should not rely on the general legal information contained herein, which may or may not be applicable to your case. Attorney cannot guarantee a particular result for your case and nothing in this e-mail constitutes a representation regarding the merits of your potential claims. Moreover, this reply is not an offer for professional services. Attorney will not take any action on your matter and no professional relationship will exist until Attorney and all prospective clients sign a separate written fee contract according to subsequently negotiated terms. Please be further advised that the law imposes strict time limitations for filing civil actions (“statutes of limitations”). Statutes of limitations are often very short and all potential claims will be lost forever if you fail to file them with the court or appropriate administrative agency in a timely manner. Consequently, you should immediately contact Attorney or another lawyer to fully protect your legal rights.

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2/17/05, 7:29 pm

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