Manly & Stewart Cover Potentially Law Changing Case Concerning Sexual Abuse in a Public School System

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Manly & Stewart has successfully filed a petition against the William S. Hart Union High School District and one of its guidance counselors citing damages for sexual harassment and abuse. The petition has been approved for review.

California Sexual Abuse Lawyer

California Sexual Abuse Attorney

In an unprecedented suit against the William S. Hart High Union School District (Supreme Court Case No. S188982), one plaintiff is suing his high school guidance counselor and the district she worked in. Under review is the question of whether the district can be held responsible for the sexually explicit actions of one of its guidance counselors. As it stands, it is unclear as to whether or not any school district in California can be legally held liable for the acts of one of its employees. If the case comes to fruition, it could be groundbreaking, as never before has a lawsuit successfully enacted statewide terms establishing a state’s ability to sue a public school for sexual abuse.

Per the plaintiff's case, the acts were unquestionably outside of the guidance counselor’s scope of employment practices. However, the case is questioning the school district’s role in the matter as well. Specifically, claims of negligence have been made in conjunction with the administrative personnel and supervisory staff members who allegedly knew about the sexually inappropriate relationship and did nothing. The case also brings into question acts of negligence which may have led administrative staff to miss signs of the relationship as well as predictors that could have been noted in a pre-hire interview. As such, the plaintiff has made further claims of “vicarious liability for negligent hiring, retention, and supervision.”

Plenty of case authorities have established the fact that school personnel are required to provide students with direct and protective supervision that reflects ordinary standards of care; sexual harassment and neglect to notice the sexual abuse clearly fall outside of these lines. As such, the district is questionably being held responsible for breach of duty. Suing the district as a whole, rather than just the counselor at fault, will prove that the school system neglected its legal duties to protect students from exposure to an employee that demonstrated foreseeable sexual dangers, including molestation and sexual harassment.

The judgment issued by the Court of Appeal has been reversed in this case, and procedural legal operations are under way to review the matter further. The California sexual abuse attorneys at Manly & Stewart strongly believes that this case will determine whether or not anyone in the state will be able to sue a public school for sexual abuse and are attempting to set legal precedence in the state of California.

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Vince Finaldi
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