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Ventura County Focus | West County / CAMARILLO

School District Sued Over Molestation

June 25, 1998|STEVE CHAWKINS

A 10-year-old girl and her mother on Wednesday sued the Pleasant Valley School District for negligence over two incidents in March when the child was molested by a 15-year-old girl.

At the time, the older girl, who lived near Camarillo Heights Elementary School, already had been arrested for molesting a 5-year-old girl at the school. Earlier this month, the 15-year-old was sentenced to the California Youth Authority Detention Center in Camarillo for offenses related to both girls.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the school district, as well as from Camarillo Heights Principal Donald Hart, teacher Kathy Johnsen and the molester's family.

The defendants could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

According to the suit, the 15-year-old committed sex acts with the fourth-grader March 10 and 12 after inviting the younger girl to her home.

After the first absence, school officials did not follow their policy of asking for a note from the girl's parents, the suit alleges.

"We feel that at least the second day could have been prevented, and that was when the most damage was done," said the girl's attorney, Brian P. McGilvray of Encino.

After the second absence, a family member who had gone to pick the girl up at school discovered that she had not been to class that day, McGilvray said. After her family called police, she was found walking home alone.

The girl has been "devastated" by the incidents and is undergoing therapy, McGilvray said.

The suit also alleges that the school should have alerted parents after the molestation of the 5-year-old and taken precautions against further incidents.

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