Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Los Angeles Unified is being sued by five former high school students who allege they were sexually abused by an ex-volunteer assistant football coach who’s being criminally prosecuted on felony charges.

The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit also names as defendants Benjamin Franklin High School and ex-coach Jaime Jimenez, who also taught at the Highland Park campus.

Four of the plaintiffs are young men and the fifth is a minor represented in the complaint by his parents. The juvenile and two of the adult plaintiffs are brothers.

An LAUSD representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The alleged abuses of the plaintiffs occurred roughly from 2002-13, according to their court papers.

“Defendants failed to take reasonable steps and implement reasonable safeguards to avoid acts of unlawful sexual conduct by Jimenez, including prevent abuse of plaintiffs…,” the suit alleges. “Instead, defendants ignored and concealed the sexual abuse of plaintiffs and others by Jimenez that already occurred.”

Multiple “red flags” existed regarding Jimenez’s behavior, which included secluding students in equipment and locker rooms, spending long periods of time with them on and off campus, giving them rides and taking photos with them, according to the complaint.

The failure to investigate Jimenez follows a similar pattern in which the LAUSD did not properly look into complaints of sexual abuse by other employees, including teachers Mark Berndt at Miramonte Elementary School, Paul Chapel III at Telfair Elementary School and Robert Pimentel at George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School, the suit alleges. Those three former educators all pleaded no contest to criminal charges and were sentenced to state prison terms.

The plaintiffs alleges that at the LAUSD, there is a “long-standing custom and practice … to harbor and protect suspected child predators at the expense of the safety and welfare of children.”

Jimenez, 47, was charged in April 2015 with 23 felony counts — five counts of sodomy of a person under 16, six counts of oral copulation of a person under 16 and 12 counts of lewd acts on a child. He is due in court May 27 for a pretrial hearing.

Prosecutors allege Jimenez, who was arrested shortly before he was charged, committed the crimes away from school grounds between August 2002 and December 2014. The lawsuit does not state whether any of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit also are alleged victims in the criminal complaint.

Jimenez was removed from his post at Franklin High, where he had coached football since 1998, LAUSD officials said previously.

— City News Service 

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