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Families Sue School District Over Lewd Acts By Janitor

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A former middle school janitor is going to jail for molesting students and now some of those students are suing the school district.

Relatives of seven students who said they were fondled or molested by 60-year-old Michael Anthony Barry, of La Puente, announced a lawsuit Thursday accusing the Bassett Unified School District of negligent hiring and supervision.

Barry was sentenced Tuesday to 14 years in prison. He pleaded no contest Nov. 8 to five felony counts of lewd acts on a child, five misdemeanor counts of child molesting and one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The crimes -- involving girls ranging in age from 11 to 14 -- occurred at Torch Middle School in Industry between August 2014 and June 2015, and August 2016 and May 2017, according to Deputy District Attorney Babette Huley.

"I send her to school to learn. Not to be touched by a pervert," said a Torch parent. "He would give them candies and chips. Even marijuana."

And then, according to the evidence, he would touch them.

"She fought him off. He tried to see how far he could go with my daughter and she fought him off and he knew that was as far as he was going to get with her," said a Torch parent, who said his daughter was 14-years-old at the time and she didn't report it to anyone because most of the girls, they were told, were simply too afraid or they didn't think anyone at the school would believe them.

"The administrators are more interested in their paycheck then in protecting the children," said the victims' attorney Luis Carrillo. "They are more interested in the reputation of the school district."

Carrillo claims negligence was a major factor in why this happened.

"They have security guards at Torch Middle School. They don't do nothing," said a parent.

The school district put out a statement saying, "Bassett Unified continues to focus on ensuring the safety and well-being of our students and community."

Barry is married and has children and grandchildren. Many of them were in the court when he pleaded guilty on Tuesday. He did not address the court.

According to the sentencing guidelines, Barry must serve at least 12 years of the 14 he's been sentenced to before being paroled.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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