Officials at a Burbank private Catholic high school being sued by a former student who alleges she was molested as a minor by a track-and-field coach insisted Monday the coach was quickly fired when the allegations arose, and that student safety is the school’s top concern.
The plaintiff is identified only as Jane Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday against Providence High School and the now-18-year-old plaintiff’s former coach, Mohamed Haddada.
Haddada, 27, has been charged with sexual abuse, according to her court papers.
The suit’s allegations include sexual abuse of a minor, sexual harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent hiring, supervision and retention. Doe seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
“In 2019, Providence High School was made aware of serious allegations of misconduct and abuse by a contracted employee toward a student,” according to a statement issued by the school Monday. “Abuse of any kind is abhorrent and unacceptable and we do not tolerate it. Upon notice of these allegations, we immediately alerted the Burbank Police Department, launched an internal investigation and terminated the employee in question.”
The school has continued to work closely with law enforcement to ensure a thorough and complete investigation, according to the statement.
School officials declined to comment on specifics of the lawsuit, citing privacy issues and pending litigation.
“However, we can share that the safety and wellbeing of our students is always our top priority,” according to the school. “This issue continues to have our full attention and we’re doing our utmost to support our students and their families during this time.”
According to the lawsuit, at the outset of the 2018-19 school year, the plaintiff was 16 years old and in the 10th grade. Haddada was assigned as her track and field coach and soon began manipulating her emotions to take advantage of her age in order to ultimately sexually abuse her, the suit states.
Haddada had adult-oriented talks with Doe, paid special attention to her and shared personal information about his personal life, the suit states.
The Providence High track-and-field program continued into the summer of 2019 and the team practiced regularly under Haddada’s supervision, the suit states. Haddada contacted several students to attend a school-sponsored track competition in Las Vegas in late June 2019, including Doe, even though she had not qualified to participate in any of the track-and-field events, according to the suit.
Haddada was the only adult chaperone attending the track competition with Doe and two other students, and he had them stay at the same motel where he was lodged, the suit states. He checked the plaintiff and a female friend of hers into their room, but when Doe became ill later from possible food poisoning, he asked her to stay in his room so she could sleep well prior to the next day’s competition, the suit states.
As Doe attempted to go to sleep, Haddada began inappropriately touching her and eventually had involuntary sex with her, the suit states.
“Plaintiff left the room and returned to her hotel room, where she cried through the entire night,” the suit states.
Doe told her friend what happened and the incident left the plaintiff with bruises on her thighs, the suit states. She asked her friend not to tell anyone what had happened to her, according to the suit.
That same month and on previous occasions, Providence administrators told Haddada and others that they believed he acted inappropriately with minor female students, but “did nothing further to investigate Haddada’s inappropriate conduct, did not supervise Haddada more closely (and) did not restrict or limit Haddada’s ability to be alone with minor students,” the suit states
Had the administration done something after the earlier allegations against Haddada, Doe “would never have been abused,” the suit states.
Doe confronted Haddada a few weeks after the alleged assault in Las Vegas and he admitted he sexually abused her, while also telling her he was molested as a child, the suit states.
Haddada made “express and implied threats” to Doe not to tell anyone what had happened between them, the suit states. However, Doe confided in 2019 to her mother, who told police, and Haddada was arrested.