The Riverside Unified School District is being sued in connection with a former teacher’s alleged molestation of a North High School girl, while a separate suit was pending against the district for alleged sexual misconduct by a former girls basketball coach at Poly High School.
“This lawsuit represents one more sad chapter in the long and sordid history of child sexual abuse within RUSD,” attorney Morgan Stewart said in reference to the North High case. “In this case, the Riverside County Office of Education and district ignored all of the warning signs … and our client was injured as a direct result of their negligence.”
Neither RUSD nor the Office of Education immediately responded to requests for comment.
The North High suit, announced Friday, stems from the alleged acts of 27-year-old John Torrez of Loma Linda, who is charged with two counts of oral copulation of a minor.
Torrez, who is free on a $100,000 bond, was arrested last March following an investigation by the Riverside Police Department, focused on the defendant’s alleged interactions with a North High student, identified in court documents only as “Jane Doe.”
According to prosecutors, Torrez, who worked on assignment from the Office of Education as a career adviser and technical instructor, allegedly had multiple encounters with the girl in 2019.
The civil complaint filed by Stewart alleges Torrez targeted several girls, not just his client, and found opportunities to “be alone with minors in secluded areas of the school, and drive minors off campus.”
“The abuse took place in such locations as the training room at North High School, the storage garage … in Torrez’s personal vehicle and at Torrez’s personal residence,” the suit alleges.
The defendant has a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 2 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Stewart represented nearly a dozen girls in a $6 million lawsuit that the district settled over a series of molestations perpetrated by 28-year-old Fernando Figueroa, a former computer tutor at Liberty Elementary School. Three related suits involving other girls are still being litigated.
Figueroa was sentenced in December 2019 to 20 years in state prison.
A civil suit is additionally slated for filing against the RUSD for the alleged acts of former Poly High girls varsity and junior varsity assistant basketball coach Desmen Niguel Granger, 47, of Riverside, according to attorney Elan Zekster.
Granger, who is free on his own recognizance, is charged with three counts of annoying a minor and two counts of sexual battery, all misdemeanors.
“This case is especially horrific due to the disgusting conduct of the school,” Zekster told City News Service.
“Assistant coaches knew a sexual predator was amongst these young ladies and did nothing,” he alleged. “Once the school found out that these girls were being sexually abused and harassed, the school employees attempted to silence them.”
According to the California Attorney General’s Office, which is handling the prosecution because of an unspecified conflict within the District Attorney’s Office, the defendant’s alleged illicit contact with the three victims occurred mostly in 2019.
The incidents involved slapping students’ buttocks, making unsolicited advances and lewd comments verbally and via text, prosecutors and Zekster allege.
“It was at practice and during games,” according to the attorney, who represents one of the alleged victims. “Most of it occurred on campus.”
He believes there are a number of other students who have not come forward, and he said that he hoped his representation of one of the girls will inspire them to speak out.
Granger’s trial is tentatively set for March 15 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
Torrez has no documented felony or misdemeanor convictions in Riverside County. However, Granger has two misdemeanor convictions — one for vandalism, and the other for driving on a suspended license, according to court records.
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