The Culver City Unified School District will not be conducting an investigation into the high school’s football team in the wake of allegations of rape by members of the team by a former student.
“We intend to be very intentional in our efforts to seek educational opportunities to benefit students, staff and parents. However, there are no plans for an internal investigation of the football team,” Culver City Unified Superintendent David LaRose told the News.
On Jan. 14, a 15-year-old former Culver City High School student filed a civil lawsuit against the school district, naming three former football players and 100 unnamed defendants. The legal action claims she was repeatedly raped and assaulted between Dec.4-22, 2013 and accuses school district administrators of negligence. That carelessness, her attorney states in court records, led to the plaintiff being sexually assaulted. “In utter disregard of the mandatory duties imposed upon district and its administrators, [the] district and [its] employees, teachers and administrators failed to monitor school grounds during school hours to ensure student safety during school hours,” the lawsuit states.
A recent allegation regarding the district’s prior knowledge of the alleged rapes and assaults has also surfaced.
On Jan. 20, KTLA Channel 5 reported that a young man who claims to be one of the football players named in the lawsuit contacted the station and denied raping the plaintiff but claims that he witnessed her having sex with other players. The unnamed defendant, who is now 18, also said, according to KTLA, that school administrators knew about the alleged sexual activity. “Room 57…that was like the playground of all dirty things,” he said. “The assistant principals…they knew mostly a lot of everything that went down. They even caught us a couple of times.”
The young man also reportedly told the television station the plaintiff “was just embarrassed” and speculated “I think her parents need someone to blame.”
Judith Yedidsion, a Los Angeles-based attorney representing the plaintiff, said she could not address the comments made by the caller but was aware of his claims. “We’ve heard that this type of environment existed at Culver City High School,” she told the News.
Documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court also reveal that the plaintiff filed a government claim with the school district on May 30 last year. “The claim was thereby rejected on July 24, 2014 by Mike Reynolds, assistant superintendent of business services (at CCUSD),” court records state.
The plaintiff, who is referred to as “A.S. “ in court records and no longer lives in Culver City, is seeking an undisclosed sum of compensation for “emotional distress, physical pain and emotional suffering” as well as loss of earnings and future earnings potential earning capacity and psychological and medical care and expenses,” according to the legal complaint.
LaRose said the lawsuit was “based on allegations, not facts” and appeared to imply the school district is being subjected to unfair scrutiny. “It is unfortunate that our school, students, staff, and programs are being judged based on allegations and misinformation,” LaRose wrote.
Resident Claudia Vizcarra believes there are critical matters that should be addressed beyond the lawsuit. “This is an important moment for our community to reflect on the conditions that allowed this to happen. It is incredibly important for all to engage in thoughtful conversations about how we can make sure that this never happens again,” said Vizcarra, whose daughter attends Culver City High.
Regarding recent unsubstantiated remarks on a local blog post suggesting without any evidence that the lawsuit is “misguided” and the plaintiff is being “forced” into filing the legal action “in hopes of a payoff,” Yedidsion called them “irresponsible.”
“This invokes a very personal response in me because I see the effects of what happens to these victims,” the attorney asserted. “My client tried to commit suicide and had to leave the state because she was so traumatized.
“I think it’s a slap in the face to any victim of sexual abuse to say that [the lawsuit] is a ploy to get monetary compensation,” Yedidision concluded.