POMONA (CNS) - A tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against the Walnut Valley Unified School District on behalf of a girl, now 14 years old, who alleges she was sexually abused more than 50 times at school by fellow students.
The plaintiff also alleges the district subjected her to disparate treatment because she is Black. She is identified only as L.C. in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that alleged negligent supervision of minors, racial discrimination, breach of a duty to report suspected child abuse and a violation of the state Civil Code.
Attorneys for the plaintiff filed court papers on Tuesday notifying Pomona Superior Court Judge Salvatore Sirna of a "conditional" settlement in the case that is awaiting September approval by the Board of Education with a request for dismissal expected to be filed by Nov. 20. No terms were divulged.
The plaintiff began attending C.J. Morris Elementary School on East Calle Baja Drive in Walnut as a kindergartener in the fall of 2014. During the 2016-17 school year, she and other second-graders were taken on a field trip to Cal Poly Pomona, the suit stated.
While returning to Morris Elementary, a boy sitting next to the plaintiff forced her to touch him, an act he repeated multiple times on subsequent dates all over the campus, including in the classroom, according to the suit. He also induced her to commit more serious sexual acts with him, the complaint filed in January 2021 alleged.
When the plaintiff reached the third grade in the fall of 2017, the same boy who allegedly abused her the previous school year told his male friends what he had done to her, according to the lawsuit.
"Then, he and the other male students -- at least five others -- proceeded to sexually abuse plaintiff multiple times all over campus, including in (the) classroom, the administration building, the library and the school bathrooms," the suit stated.
The alleged acts of sexual abuse happened more than 50 times "due to complete lack of supervision by plaintiff's teachers and the administrators at C.J. Morris Elementary School, including Principal Shehzad Bhojani," the complaint alleges.
In February 2018, Bhojani summoned the girl and her grandmother to his office, where he "expressed disbelief and accused plaintiff of making up what happened," the suit alleges. Since that time, the plaintiff has been home- schooled and her grandmother pays for a tutor, the suit stated.
The district showed racial prejudice toward the plaintiff by accusing her of making up her accounts of sexual abuse, by failing to adequately punish the boys who attacked her, all but one of whom were not Black, and by not making it safe enough to return to the school without fear of being abused by the same boys, the suit alleges.
Bhojani is no longer the Morris School principal, according to the plaintiff's court papers.
According to the district's attorneys' court papers, although the plaintiff alleges she was sexually assaulted more than 50 times on campus, not one such instance was reported to the school employees by anyone and the plaintiff herself never offered a report.
The plaintiffs' attorneys never asserted that a district employee saw any misconduct regarding the girl, according to the WVUSD lawyers' court papers.