A 13-year-old boy who was inappropriately touched by his former Pacoima elementary school teacher testified Wednesday that he tries not to think about the abuses and now sometimes finds it hard to tell between good and bad instructors.
The boy is one of two plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought on their behalf against Los Angeles Unified, which has admitted liability for the conduct of Paul Chapel III, a former third-grade teacher at Telfair Elementary School.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury hearing trial of the lawsuit will determine the damages they should receive.
The boy said he gave more details in Wednesday’s testimony about Chapel’s abuses than he did during his deposition. However, he said that despite his ugly past experiences with Chapel, he enjoys his current classes at a magnet school and counts history as his favorite subject.
In addition to his live testimony, portions of the boy’s videotaped interview with a therapist in August were shown to jurors. The boy told the therapist that he used to think that “old, weird” teachers were “cool” and that getting adjusted to younger teachers was usually more difficult.
The boy said he used to consider Chapel to be “cool,” but that the label no longer applies to the former teacher. He said it is now harder, since Chapel, to say teachers are better or worse based on their age.
In the video, the boy told the therapist that he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but does not believe it impairs his learning. He said British physicist Stephen Hawking is a “genius” despite having a disability.
The boy drew laughs from the jury when he looked upward as if to heaven in apparent gratitude when his testimony was completed.
Chapel, now 54, is serving a 25-year sentence imposed in 2012, after he pleaded no contest to molesting 13 boys during a roughly 4 1/2-year period. The other plaintiff in the lawsuit is now 14 years old. He was not one of Chapel’s students, but visited his class during recess and other times.
— City News Service