Attorneys representing victims of two convicted pedophile teachers announced an $18.4 million settlement Wednesday on behalf of their clients in litigation against Los Angeles Unified.
The settlement was part of a $25 million settlement of child sex abuse claims approved by the LAUSD Board of Education on Tuesday.
Payments totaling $10 million will go to five former students of Robert Pimentel and another $8.4 million will go to four former students of Paul Chapel, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
Chapel, a teacher at Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima received a 25-year prison term following his 2012 conviction for lewd acts with 13 children. Pimentel, a teacher at De La Torre Elementary School in Wilmington, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexually abusing four girls.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys contended the district knew about complaints and reports of past sexual misconduct by the teachers, but continued to allow them to remain in the classroom with access to children.
In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, LAUSD general counsel David Holmquist said, “There is nothing more important than the safety of our students.”
“While these settlements will not excuse the behavior of those who preyed upon these children, we are relieved that we could resolve these matters without putting the children through further litigation,” he said.
Plaintiff’s attorneys noted that the district has paid nearly $90 million to settle litigation by families of 30 students at Telfair and De La Torre schools, and another $200 million stemming from abuse committed by former teacher Mark Berndt at Miramonte Elementary School.
“You would think that after paying more than $300 million to settle cases of sexual abuse by teachers, the Los Angeles Board of Education would take serious steps to reform a culture which places the reputation of the district and its employees above the safety of the children in its care,” attorney John Manly said. “Instead, they continue to ignore warning signs of sexual abuse, blame child victims for their abuse and hide the crimes of perpetrators from law enforcement and the public.”
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