BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Most sexual assaults on a high school campus occur in a bathroom or other private place, but a newly-filed lawsuit alleges a freshman at Bakersfield High School abused a classmate in 2019 during class, with a teacher standing at most 15 feet away.
The suit filed by attorney Daniel Rodriguez against the Kern High School District says administrators and teachers failed to supervise or take adequate precautions against the teen boy, who Rodriguez said was also accused of sexually abusing three other female students in classrooms. The boy was 14 at the time.
District spokeswoman Erin Briscoe said she is unable to comment on pending litigation.
Rodriguez on Tuesday said the boy — whose name he can’t reveal because he’s a minor — pleaded no contest to criminal charges filed in connection with three of the alleged victims. The fourth chose not to testify.
It’s alleged the boy groped the girls over their clothing, Rodriguez said, but there is also believed to have been one case of skin on skin contact.
The student Rodriguez is representing was sexually abused after the boy inappropriately touched the other students, the lawyer said. He questioned how the district couldn’t know about the alleged abuse.
Rodriguez said it’s his understanding the teen is the son of a popular coach.
“I don’t know, but it’s a pretty strong suggestion that maybe the teachers, the administration, looked the other way, turned a blind eye to all this, gave this assailant preferential treatment,” Rodriguez said.
In his client’s case, the abuse occurred in a classroom where the teacher paid no attention to the students, Rodriguez said.
“It involved, from all accounts, a teacher who’s totally disengaged, oblivious to what’s going on,” Rodriguez said. “She’s either very sloppy, or didn’t care, from what we can see, because she’s at the front of the room and this assault takes place probably 10, 15 feet away.”
He said the teacher was so focused on her cellphone and computer she ignored everything else going on in her class.
Rodriguez said he’ll soon begin depositions and gathering more information.
The suit alleges general negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress and seeks damages in an amount to be proven at trial.