An attorney representing several students sexually abused by teachers told The Kyle Olson Show this week that the Redlands Unified School District in Redlands, California has the dubious distinction of allegedly having the most perpetrators per student in the state.
Attorney Morgan Stewart, who is representing several of the survivors, alleged Redlands has employed over 20 teachers or administrators who have abused students in a district that has about 21,000 enrolled.
Stewart’s clients, seven students now in their early 30s who were abused by Sean Ramiro Lopez when they were 12-14 years old, are suing the district for its alleged “dereliction of duty.”
He said two students have committed suicide as a result of Lopez’s actions.
Lopez was convicted in 2005 “of molesting and sexually harassing three teenage boys in his classroom and at his home and was sentenced in 2006 to 74 years in prison,” Redlands Daily Facts reported:
Lopez’s suspicious involvement with students led to an administrative investigation at Clement Middle School during which Lopez and his students were all questioned. But despite having “clear knowledge that Lopez was a risk and acting sexually inappropriate with minor males,” the school and school district failed to call police and child protective services, remove Lopez from the classroom and recognize that Lopez was grooming his students for sexual abuse, according to the lawsuit.
Kevin Patrick Kirkland was assistant principal of the school after Lopez’s arrest. He was convicted of abusing four girls from June 2014 through May 2016, according to the news site.
Stewart said a human resources staff member was allegedly “found destroying sexual abuse documents about a perpetrator in the district in the middle of a police investigation.”
The Orange County Register reported in 2018 that “Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Sabine Robertson-Phillips was accused by two police detectives of deleting files on her office computer during July 3, 2013, police raids at school district offices and Citrus Valley High School as part of the criminal investigation of teacher Laura Whitehurst.”
Whitehurst was accused of allowing a student to father her child. She plead guilty to six of 41 charges in 2013, according to CBS 2.
Robertson-Phillips denied the accusations. Stewart said the district attorney declined to prosecute.
“Until we start holding these people accountable, we’re not going to see any change,” he said.
Stewart told The Kyle Olson Show that schools often allegedly cover up abuse by “passing the trash,” that is, moving suspected perpetrators from one school district to another.
This is often done by offering a settlement and a positive letter of recommendation in exchange for a resignation, which avoids a costly fight over a tenured position.
Stewart said his clients are suing for compensation and changes in the district to ensure future students are protected from predator educators and their enablers.