Second lawsuit filed against church and school over alleged molestation by former vice principal

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A second lawsuit has been filed against Fairfax School District and Fairfax Assembly of God church in connection with alleged molestation by a former vice principal and church board member who pleaded no contest to a charge of committing a lewd or lascivious act with a child.

The suit filed by Rodriguez & Associates — the firm that filed the first suit in October — alleges Donald Ricketts sexually abused a girl beginning in 2006 when she was 11 years old. The abuse lasted through 2007, the suit says.

Attorney Daniel Rodriguez said Ricketts groomed the girl for abuse at the church then molested her at Fairfax Middle School. Ricketts served as the school’s vice principal until his arrest in 2011.

In 2013, Ricketts received a three-year prison term after pleading no contest to a charge of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14.

Rodriguez said it’s unknown how many children Ricketts molested. He said the first suit was filed on behalf of another girl who was 11 when Ricketts molested her. Both suits seek damages in an amount to be determined.

These cases are notable, Rodriguez said, because both a school and church are involved.

“These are places where we as parents trust that our kids are going to be protected and going to be safe,” Rodriguez said.

The attorney said officials with the school district and church failed to listen to reports of abuse and follow their bylaws and training in reporting them to authorities.

Pete Baker, former pastor at Fairfax Assembly of God, which is now called Alta Vista Assembly and at a new location, has denied the church ignored warning signs. He said in October there were two sets of accusations against Ricketts before his eventual conviction, and in both instances the church contacted and cooperated with authorities.

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