School district settles schoolyard sex assault suit for $225,000

The sign outside Loyola Elementary School. Post photo by Dave Price.

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

The Los Altos school district will pay $225,000 to the family of a 10-year-old girl who sued for $5 million after she was allegedly trapped behind a schoolyard shed, partially undressed and touched inappropriately by two classmates, Superintendent Jeff Baier said last night (Nov. 30).

“LASD believes this is a path to resolution for all involved,” Baier told the Post in an email. “The Los Altos school district believes it complied with applicable laws and obligations regarding student supervision and safety.”

Baier said that reaching an “amicable solution” with the girl, rather than going to trial, would save “precious resources that can now go toward all students’ education.”

Before the case was set to go to trial on Oct. 15, lawyers for the district offered to settle with the girl’s parents.

Attorneys for both sides met with a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge twice to try to resolve the case without going before a jury, Baier said.

“When the case did not settle during these conferences, the parties were called out to trial,” Baier said. “After pretrial motions, and on the first day the jury panel was called, (the girl’s family) agreed to compromise the case for $225,000 in exchange for dismissal and waiver of all claims.”

The girl sued the district in March 2017 after, on two separate occasions, two 8-year-old boys allegedly trapped the girl behind a shed at Loyola Elementary School, pulled her pants down and her shirt up, touched her private parts with their hands and a stick and poured dirt and mud down her pants.

Boys charged with felonies

The girl was 7 years old and in second grade at the time of the alleged January 2016 assaults. The boys were charged with false imprisonment and lewd and lascivious acts on a minor, both felonies.

The girl’s parents, who are represented by San Diego attorney Patty Lewis and Long Beach attorney Joseph Low, demanded $5 million from the district on April 13.

The district, which is represented by the San Francisco firm Dannis Woliver Kelly, offered the girl $40,000 on April 27. The girl’s parents came back with a demand for $1 million on Aug. 20.

In October, both sides’ attorneys filed a series of motions seeking to exempt certain facts and evidence from going before a jury.

The district wanted to keep the terms “sexual assault,” “sexual attack” and “attack” away from jurors and to keep the girl’s parents from showing jurors a recorded FaceTime conversation from Jan. 28, 2016, in which the girl tells her father that earlier that day, the two boys had partially undressed her.

The girl’s lawyers wanted to prevent information about the girl’s father’s unemployment following a traumatic brain injury or the girl’s parents 2012 divorce and subsequent custody disputes from being mentioned in court.

Previous stories about this lawsuit

Nov. 1, 2018: School district in talks to settle suit over schoolyard assault

Oct. 17, 2018: Lawyers argue about what jurors should be told about Los Altos schoolyard attacks

Oct. 12, 2018: Trial scheduled to begin in schoolyard sex assault suit

June 3, 2018: Was it a sex assault or an innocent game among second-graders? Incident results in two lawsuits

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