Judge pares suit alleging teacher tied student’s grades to sex
A judge has pared a lawsuit filed by a man now in his mid-30s against the Paramount Unified School District, alleging he was sexually molested more than 20 years ago by a female teacher who told him that getting good grades depended on him giving in to her advances.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maurice A. Leiter dismissed a civil rights claim brought by the plaintiff, who was born in 1986 and is identified only as John GD Doe. The judge found noted that the state Supreme Court has concluded that public school districts are not business establishments as required by the particular law cited by the plaintiff.
However, the judge denied a defense motion to also dismiss a second claim in the suit, which alleges sexual assault. Attorneys for the district maintained that their client could not be held liable for teacher Gillian Melba Duran’s conduct because it had nothing to do with her normal work duties and was allegedly done for personal reasons.
“Plaintiff alleges (the district) knew of Duran’s frequent absences and became suspicious of Duran’s activities,” the judge wrote. “Plaintiff alleges he told an employee about the abuse, but the employee did not report the abuse to any authorities. This is sufficient to allege ratification.”
The defense motion did not challenge Doe’s two negligence claims. The plaintiff alleges the PUSD district negligently supervised and retained Duran.
Duran was Doe’s language arts teacher at Alondra Middle School and she sexually abused him from 2001-02, the suit alleges. Duran was later convicted and is not a defendant in the suit, according to the plaintiff’s court papers.
“Utilizing her position as a Paramount Unified School District teacher, Gillian Duran routinely sexually groomed plaintiff while he was her eighth-grade student,” the suit brought Feb. 17 states.
Duran regularly touched the then-14-year-old boy in a sexual way in the classroom in front of the other children by massaging his shoulders, and when they were in seclusion, she told him how much she liked him, the suit states.
“Duran regularly drove plaintiff alone in her car to and from school while sexually molesting him,” the suit alleges. “She also drove plaintiff from school to her home, where she gave him alcohol and sexually assaulted him.”
Duran additionally abused Doe in her classroom during the lunch hour, the suit states.
“For the entirety of plaintiff’s eighty grade year, Duran’s conduct was disregarded by school officials … despite her routine absence from numerous faculty meetings and required faculty events,” the suit states.
Duran considered the immigrant Doe vulnerable because he did not live with his biological parents and went back and forth to school on public transportation when the teacher did not drive him, the suit states.
“He was shocked at his teacher’s sexual advances during his first ride home, but she told him that the status of his grades would be dependent on his compliance with her,” the suit states.
Doe later reported the abuses to his father, who in turn told police, the suit states. Duran was arrested and charged with 12 counts of child sexual abuse, according to the suit. She confessed to the crimes, was sentenced to a jail term and ordered to register as a convicted sex offender when she was released, the suit states.