The mother of a 15-year-old ninth-grade girl who was allegedly seduced and taken to Nevada by the then-athletic director of San Gabriel Mission High School filed a lawsuit on behalf of her daughter against the school, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the coach, court papers obtained Wednesday show.
The lawsuit says the coach had sex with the girl numerous times on campus in the library, the gym and the faculty lounge. When his wife found out, he fled with the teen to Nevada, and he was then arrested near Las Vegas.
The Archdiocese said it took immediate action upon learning of the case, firing the coach and cooperating with law enforcement.
The Pico Rivera teen is identified only as Jane Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Tuesday. Her alleged abuser, Ivan Barajas, was criminally prosecuted in Nevada, according to the suit, which alleges sexual abuse of a minor, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, supervision and retention, and breach of a required duty to report suspected child abuse.
Before Barajas allegedly began abusing the plaintiff, another coach at the school and a parent both expressed concern that he was having inappropriate relationships with underage female students, the suit states.
Despite having such knowledge, the archdiocese and the school administrators did not investigate the claims and allowed Barajas to continue working, according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
The archdiocese countered in a statement released Wednesday that Barajas “was immediately suspended and later terminated when the school became aware of the matter.”
“The school and the archdiocese have been cooperating with law enforcement in Los Angeles and Nevada throughout Mr. Barajas’ prosecution,” the statement says. “The safety and well-being of our students is our utmost priority. The archdiocese has strict policies concerning conduct with minors. We offer our prayers for all those impacted by this matter. We are reviewing the claims of the civil litigation at this time.”
According to the complaint, the plaintiff, now 16, was a 15-year-old ninth-grader in the second semester of the 2015-16 school year and Barajas was her coach when the inappropriate interaction began.
Barajas gave the girl special attention beginning in February 2016 and began adult-oriented conversations with her, the suit alleges. The next month, he kissed her and his actions progressed to sex acts with the girl at various locations on campus, including his office during school hours, according to the complaint.
During the following summer, Barajas convinced the girl to meet him at the school under the guise of needing help with school matters, the suit says. Once there, he had sex with her in the library, faculty lounge and gym, according to the complaint.
In July 2016, Barajas took the girl to Nevada after finding out that his wife had discovered his relationship with the teen, the suit states. He was arrested in Henderson, near Las Vegas, a year ago, according to the complaint.
San Gabriel Mission High School is an all-girls Catholic college preparatory high school located on the grounds of the San Gabriel Mission.
–City News Service