POMONA (CNS) - A lawsuit filed on behalf of four minor boys against the Walnut Valley Unified School District alleging they were molested on campus grounds and on a school bus by a third-grade girl has been settled, with each child to receive $250,000.
Pomona Superior Court Judge Peter A. Hernandez approved the settlements during a hearing Monday in the suit, which was filed in March 2019 and alleged negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. All of the boys attended Cyrus J. Morris Elementary School and are now 11 years old. Three live in Walnut and the fourth in Ontario.
In their court papers, lawyers for the district stated each of the boys “voluntarily assumed the risk of probable and likely injury by reason of (his) conduct.''
According to the suit, the girl engaged in months of sexual misconduct and was finally caught sexually abusing a male student on Feb. 9, 2018.
The suit further alleged that Morris School teacher Shayleen Ojeda was “well aware that her classroom was an unsafe environment prior to and during the acts of sexual battery and sexual assault against plaintiffs. Ojeda had repeatedly complained to the administration of (the) WVUSD, including (Morris School Principal Shezhad) Bhojani, that her classroom was out of control and she was unable to competently supervise the students ...''
In addition, Ojeda, Bhojani and the district knew beforehand that the alleged abuser “had exhibited significant behavioral problems before and during the period when the acts of sexual battery and sexual assault were performed on plaintiffs,'' the suit alleged.
The defendants should have been aware that an area behind a couch was used as a “hiding place'' for the alleged misconduct and abuses to occur during class time, the suit stated. The “hiding place'' was removed after the girl was caught, the suit stated.
The plaintiffs' attorneys dropped Ojeda and Bhojani as defendants in the case in January.
The suit further alleged that the defendants “made accusations, implications and suggestions by words and actions that (the plaintiffs) were in fact the perpetrators of acts of sexual abuse ... instead of the victims'' and told the boys they would have to return to Ojeda's classroom if they wanted to continue attending Morris School.
According to the suit, the district did not have a student supervision policy in place that could have prevented the alleged abuses of the boys, and lacked disciplinary rules for sexual misconduct by students below the fourth-grade level.