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Lawsuit claims BHS failed to stop student who sexually abused female students

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A Bakersfield High School student said she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student in her freshman English class in November 2019, according to a civil lawsuit.

The civil lawsuit filed in Kern County Superior Court on Monday claims that BHS administration failed to act to prevent this incident, despite knowing that the student had a "history of danger, assaults, sexual assaults, molestation, offensive and inappropriate touching and/or behavior, aggression, violence, threats, and/or menace."

The plaintiff's attorney Daniel Rodriguez said it's unusual for sexual abuse at schools to occur during class. When there are cases between students, it doesn't typically happen in the open in full view of the teacher, as the lawsuit alleges.

"It usually takes place in a bathroom or somewhere hidden from view," Rodriguez said.

The suit names as defendants the district, two administrators and the teacher in the classroom where the plaintiff alleges the assault took place. It alleges negligence and asks for unspecified damages.

Kern High School District spokeswoman Erin Briscoe-Clarke said that as a policy the district does not comment on pending litigation.

The assailant was 14 years old and a freshman at the time, Rodriguez said. The attorney described the incident as "very aggressive groping" that happened at the front of the classroom.

Rodriguez said the Kern County District Attorney's Office charged the teen in three other incidents involving female students at BHS, but one declined to testify. Rodriguez said the teen pleaded guilty in three of four cases.

Because juvenile court matters are confidential, District Attorney spokesman Joseph Kinzel said that as a policy the office will not even confirm or deny the details of a case under confidentiality statutes.

Rodriguez said the legal team is trying to understand why the teacher and administration seemed to "turn a blind eye" to the sexual abuse.

You can reach Emma Gallegos at 661-395-7394.