A lawsuit was filed against the Walnut Valley Unified School District on behalf of four minor boys, alleging school officials did not do enough to prevent them from being molested on campus grounds and on a school bus by a third-grade girl.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit also names as defendants Cyrus J. Morris Elementary School principal Shezhad Bhojani; Shayleen Ojeda, a teacher at the school; and a still-unidentified school bus driver. The suit filed Tuesday alleges negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress and seeks unspecified damages.
A WVUSD representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
According to the suit, the alleged perpetrator was caught sexually abusing a male student on Feb. 9, 2018, after months of such misconduct by the girl.
“These acts occurred in the classroom of Ojeda under the supervision of Bhojani,” the suit alleges.
Ojeda was “well aware that her classroom was an unsafe environment prior to and during the acts of sexual battery and sexual assault against plaintiffs,” according to the suit. “Ojeda had repeatedly complained to the administration of (the) WVUSD, including Bhojani, that her classroom was out of control and she was unable to competently supervise the students …”
Ojeda, Bhojani and the district knew beforehand that the alleged abuser “had exhibited significant behavioral problems before and during the period when the acts of sexual battery and sexual assault were performed on plaintiffs,” the suit alleges.
All of the defendants should have been aware that an area behind a couch was used as a “hiding place” for the alleged misconduct and abuses to occur during class time, the suit states. The “hiding place” was removed after the girl was caught, the suit states.
The suit further alleges that the defendants “made accusations, implications and suggestions by words and actions that (the plaintiffs) were in fact the perpetrators of acts of sexual abuse … instead of the victims” and told the boys they would have to return to Ojeda’s classroom if they wanted to continue attending Morris School.
The district did not have in place a student supervision policy in place that could have prevented the alleged abuses of the boys and that no disciplinary rules exist for sexual misconduct by students below the fourth-grade level, according to the suit.