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Lawsuit accuses KHSD of negligence in student-on-student sexual assault

Rodriguez & Associates has filed its fourth lawsuit this month against the Kern High School District, this time on behalf of an autistic Centennial High student who says they were sexually assaulted by another student.

The lawsuit — which was filed with the Kern County Superior Court last week — alleges that in May 2018, a 16-year-old student was locked in one of the school bathrooms and was sexually assaulted by another male student in the Special Education program.

Besides KHSD, the lawsuit also includes Centennial High Assistant Principal Chris Sanchez and Special Education teacher Susanna Munoz.

The district said it does not provide comment on litigation.

According to the lawsuit, the district did not take enough steps to protect the student from assault after he had reported an incident prior to the May 2018 assault of unwanted physical contact on campus by the same student.

“No teacher or staff member in the immediate vicinity was supervising this student at the time he was assaulted,” the lawsuit says. “No teacher or staff member...was carrying a key to the bathroom, which locked from the inside. It was not until a security guard was summoned to the scene that the plaintiff was able to exit the bathroom.”

The lawsuit blames the district for failing to monitor children who are at a higher risk for sexual abuse and bullying and should have known that student-on-student sexual assault is a risk on campus, especially by older students against younger students.

The district was also criticized in the suit for not providing adequate training to staff members on how to appropriately monitor students and their whereabouts, especially high-risk areas such as bathrooms, locker rooms and playgrounds.

"(The) defendants...failed to provide adequate supervision, security protection, and/or safety measures for the benefit of students enrolled at Centennial High School,” the lawsuit says. “(The) defendants...operated the campus with such negligence...as to create and maintain a dangerous condition on the premises.”

The lawsuit is seeking damages for the students’ assault and the emotional and psychological distress the incident caused him.

This is the latest lawsuit from Rodriguez & Associates involving KHSD. They have filed lawsuits this month on behalf of students who had inappropriate physical and verbal contact with former Liberty High coach and teacher Jeff Hicks and North High Athletic Equipment Manager Edwin Rodriguez.

Noah Moss, who is representing the student in the lawsuit, has not returned calls for comment today.

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 661-395-7368. Follow him on Twitter: @JLuiz_TBC.

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