Los Angeles schools must pay $6.9M to molested boy, jury rules
(CBS/AP) LOS ANGELES - A jury ruled Tuesday that the Los Angeles Unified School District must pay a boy who was molested by an elementary school teacher $6.9 million - among the largest awards in the history of the school system.
The jury found the district liable for the repeated molestation of the 10-year-old student in 2008 and 2009 by teacher Forrest Stobbe at Queen Anne Elementary School in the city's mid-Wilshire district, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In September 2011, Stobbe pleaded no contest to lewd acts on a child and continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14.
The civil lawsuit was concerned only with the liability of the district.
Stobbe was a veteran teacher with a clean criminal record, but plaintiff's attorneys argued that administrators including the school's principal should have heeded complaints about Stobbe that preceded the molestation.
School attorneys argued that despite the horrible ordeal of the victim, there was no credible evidence known to the district that Stobbe posed a threat.
"We take our duty to protect our students seriously and are continually looking for ways that we can strengthen our screening and reporting process to ensure that no child is ever hurt in this way," said general counsel David Holmquist. "Although we can't change what happened in this case, we remain committed to doing everything in our power to promote healing and improve trust with those impacted."
The decision comes as the district's attorneys were attempting to quickly settle high-profile sex abuse suits involving nearly 200 plaintiffs stemming from Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, who is alleged to have fed his students semen and has pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of lewd conduct.
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