Over the objections of their attorney, a judge ruled Thursday that two women suing two schools and a convicted sex offending teacher can be required to undergo four-hour exams by a psychologist.
The psychologist would be chosen by the schools that are being sued by the two women.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Linfield reversed his tentative ruling in which he said attorneys for Marlborough School in Hancock Park and Viewpoint School in Calabasas had brought their requests too late. He wrote that scheduling the exams now could keep the case from going to trial as scheduled on Nov. 13.
But after hearing arguments from defense attorneys and their promises that the psychological probes will not deal with the plaintiffs’ sexual history, Linfield said he will allow both women to be questioned for four hours each. The schools’ lawyers say the exams are needed because both women are claiming they suffered emotional distress.
“I’m inclined under these terms to grant it,” Linfield said.
The plaintiffs are 33-year-old Chelsea Burkett and 30-year-old Jane Doe 2, who has chosen to remain anonymous in her case. Burkett settled her part of the case against Marlborough School, but she is continuing with her allegations against Viewpoint School and 50-year-old Joseph Koetters.
Both women accuse Koetters, their former English teacher, of abusing them off-campus while they were students at Marlborough School — Burkett was a student in Koetters’ English class in 2000-01 and Doe 2 in 2003-04. Their consolidated lawsuit alleges that the administration at Viewpoint School, where Koetters taught before being hired at Marlborough, gave the teacher a good recommendation to Marlborough’s staff even though he had a spotty record at Viewpoint.
Attorney David Ring, who represents both women, told Linfield it was improper for the schools’ lawyers to bring their motions so close to trial.
“I’m going to take a deep breath so I don’t lose my temper,” Ring said.
Ring said that in previous cases, he has consented to psychological exams of his clients 75 percent of the time defense lawyers request them because they let him know what they are seeking and agree not to delve into a plaintiff’s sexual history.
“You have to give me a proposal we can agree on,” Ring said.
Ring said he will now have to ask both women to take time off from work just to be examined by the psychologist.
In a “Nightline” interview that aired April 11, Burkett went public with her name and discussed being the victim of childhood sexual abuse. She alleged that she did not realize Koetters caused her psychological harm until 2014, when she read an online essay written by another female who claimed she also was sexually harassed by the teacher.
Koetters was arrested in February 2015. The Santa Monica resident was sentenced to a year in county jail in October 2015 for engaging in sex acts with both women. He was released early and completed a year-long program for sex offenders, according to his lawyer.
–City News Service
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