Ayala High sex abuse suit can proceed

CHINO – A judge has ruled that a sex abuse lawsuit brought against the Chino Valley Unified School District can proceed to trial.

The plaintiff, given the pseudonym “John Roe 79,” filed a law suit in August against the district for damages based on negligence, negligent hiring, sexual battery and sexual harassment as well as other issues.

Attorneys for the school district argued that the complaint should be tossed out because it was not presented within six months after the alleged abuse, as required by law.

The alleged incidents from 2000 to 2002 involved a former Ruben S. Ayala High School student and a former color guard instructor at the school.

The plaintiff is seeking $20 mil lion in damages.

Judge David A. Williams over ruled the timely claim-filing requirements this week in West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga.

“The judge decided to overrule the (defendant’s objection to the claim),” said Devin Miles Storey, an attorney from the Zalkin Law Firm representing the plaintiff. “The case is able to move forward past the pleading stage.”

The judge’s ruling was based on the precedent of a similar case, K. J. vs. Arcadia Unified School District, where the alleged victim’s discovery of harm took place after the statute of limitations, said Devin Storey, the plaintiff’s attorney.

However, the judge indicated “down the road he may be willing to entertain a motion to dismiss the case based on the statute of limitations,” Storey said.

Attorneys for the plaintiff stated the claim was filed within six months of his reasonable discovery of adulthood injury resulting from molestation.

The plaintiff’s attorneys said the alleged victim did not recognize the alleged abuse he suffered from the perpetrator as wrongful until he saw a mental health therapist in January.

According to court documents, which do not name the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator, the plaintiff was 16 to 18 years old at the time of the alleged inci dents.

In summer 1999, the student met the instructor, who provided special treatment to the student, such as taking him on outings. A sexual relationship developed the following year, according to the complaint.

In March 2000, school administrators became aware of a rumored relationship and held a meeting with the plaintiff, his mother and the instructor, according to the claim.

The school principal told the instructor to stop showing special attention to the student, according to the claim. Attorneys for the district tried to show that the school meeting demonstrated the complaint was filed too late.

“The allegations in the com plaint demonstrate that plaintiff had reason to know at the time of the events giving rise to this com plaint that perpetrator’s alleged conduct was occurring and that it was wrong and harmful,” according to a legal document from the district’s attorneys, Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost.

John Roe 79′s complaints are similar to those surrounding the July arrest of George Armenta, 36, of El Monte, a former color guard instructor at Ayala High and a former district employee, according to court records. Armenta was employed as a color guard instructor for the Arcadia Unified School District when he was arrested.

According to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, any possible charges to be filed in Armenta’s case are pend ing review.

- neil.nisperos@inlandnewspapers.com, 909-483-9356

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