The Claremont Unified School District and a former cafeteria worker collectively agreed to pay $1.8 million to a onetime student who alleged she sexually abused him in 2014, when he was 16 years old, an attorney said Wednesday.
The plaintiff, now 20, was identified only as John SE Doe in the lawsuit filed in April 2017 against the CUSD and employee Vanessa Antonia Tinoco. He alleged negligence, sexual harassment, assault and battery, gender violence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The young man attorney, Vince Finaldi, said the settlement was both a happy and a sad resolution to the case for his client.
“It’s unfortunate it had to get to this point in the first place because he would rather not have been abused,” Finaldi said. “He has a long road ahead of him.”
Finaldi said the settlement was approved by the CUSD Board of Education.
In her court papers, Tinoco maintained the boy’s claims were filed too late and that he “suffered no damage” in his encounters with her.
The district maintained it its court papers that the CUSD was not responsible for the plaintiff’s damages.
The then-teen said he met Tinoco in January 2014, when she supervised him in a special education program in which he assisted in preparing lunches at Claremont High School.
“Tinoco … deliberately targeted plaintiff after determining that he would be vulnerable to her sexual predation,” his lawsuit alleged.
Tinoco talked with the student about her marriage and children, sent him graphic photos of herself and eventually escalated her conduct to sexual activity with him, some of it on campus, according to the suit, which said their interactions were not a secret.
“Indeed, other cafeteria employees joined the plaintiff and Tinoco at various activities off campus,” the suit said. “Tinoco would regularly drive the plaintiff to and from campus, walking together to her car parked in the staff parking lot directly in front of the administrative offices.”
Claremont police arrested Tinoco in October 2014. Tinoco, then 33, resigned from the district in February 2015.
The Pomona resident pleaded no contest to unlawful sexual intercourse and was sentenced by Pomona Superior Court Commissioner Wade Olsen to three years formal probation and a year in jail. She also was ordered to register as a sex offender.