LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Attorneys for an adult woman who sued Los Angeles Unified, alleging she was sexually abused by an English teacher while in high school, can take depositions from two of the teacher's family members, a judge has ruled.
On Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel M. Crowley denied a motion by attorneys for Jill and Phoebe Smolin -- the spouse and daughter, respectively, of teacher and lawsuit co-defendant Barry Smolin -- to quash their deposition subpoenas.
The plaintiff is identified only as Jane Doe in lawsuit the brought in April 2021, when Smolin's accuser was 29 years old. Smolin is alleged to have begun grooming Doe as a freshman at Hamilton High School during the 2006- 07 school year, in part by giving her a copy of a CD of music he made.
"The court recognizes that the taking of Smolin's wife's and daughter's depositions may be uncomfortable for them, and it is not unwarranted to seek to protect them from that discomfort," Crowley wrote. "The court balanced that discomfort against the plaintiff's right to conduct discovery and came down on the side of plaintiff. But it was not an easy decision."
The judge limited the deposition length to one hour each for Jill and Phoebe Smolin. Attorneys for the two women argued that the plaintiff's attorneys could get the same information from other witnesses without invading the privacy of their clients, but also urged the judge to put limits on the depositions if he decided to allow them.
In a sworn declaration, Jill Smolin said she "never knew or even suspected that my husband was in a relationship with any of his students. I never had any knowledge of my husband's alleged relationship with plaintiff until this lawsuit was filed and, more specifically, when plaintiff issued a press release."
Phoebe Smolin said in her declaration that she attended Hamilton High at the same time as the plaintiff and that they had many of the same friends. Like her mother, she said she knew nothing about her father's alleged relationship with Doe until the lawsuit was brought.
But according to the plaintiff's attorneys' court papers, a former Hamilton High student testified he went to Smolin's house during his sophomore year and Phoebe Smolin "told him that her dad was doing stuff that made her uncomfortable" regarding "how close of a relationship he seemed to have with one of his current female students, who was in the same grade as Phoebe."
The plaintiff's attorneys further stated in their court papers that the plaintiff testified she bought a bottle of tequila for Smolin during a trip to Mexico during her senior year and that she stated Smolin told her his wife asked him if his "girlfriend" would mind if she drank some of the tequila."
According to the suit, Smolin told the plaintiff during her sophomore year he adored her and that hugs between the two were "mandatory." The alleged grooming continued during Doe's junior year and the sexual abuse began when she was a senior in the 2009-10 school year, the suit states.
"In fact, on one occasion while Smolin was sexually abusing plaintiff, another teacher walked in and Smolin literally threw plaintiff off of him and onto the seat next to him," the suit states.
Smolin also provided Doe with alcohol as a way to entice her to continue having an inappropriate relationship with him and he also gave her drugs, including marijuana and salvia, the suit alleges.
Smolin additionally gave Doe $300 to buy LSD, telling her she could sell it for a profit, according to the suit.
Doe has suffered humiliation and emotional distress due to the alleged abuses, the suit states.