BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A Bakersfield law firm has filed a lawsuit against the Kern High School District after a minor was sexually assaulted at school in 2019. They also say the person being accused, also a minor has a history of doing this at the high school.
Rodriguez and Associates filed the suit against the KHSD. They say the victim they are representing was sexually assaulted in the classroom while class was going on. Daniel Rodriguez of Rodriguez and Associates says that the most common place for sexual assault crimes is in bathrooms or secluded areas. But he says this case at Bakersfield High School is unusual because it happened in plain sight. He also says that the person accused who is also a minor has a pattern of assaulting girls at the school.
“Our information is that the teacher in our case is no more than 10-15 feet away,” said Rodriguez. “Apparently, the assailant had a history of this. We say this because even though we are in the early stage of this court process, we found out that there were three other victims in addition to the girl we represent.”
Rodriguez adds the purpose of the lawsuit is to hold the district accountable and get answers on the incident they say took place in November of 2019. He says the training that teachers and staff get in trying to prevent these kinds of incidents or be aware of them is not good enough.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault refers to a pattern of behavior that includes rape, but also any unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature. Anything from non-consensual kissing and fondling to forced oral, anal or vaginal sex is an act of sexual assault.
It is important to note that sexual assault is NOT about sex. It is about power and control over another person. Sexual assault leaves victims feeling hurt and humiliated. Here are some interesting facts about sexual assault:
- Most rapes are not committed by strangers; anywhere between 87% and 92% of rapists are known to the victim and include current and former partners.
- Women do not “cry rape” to falsely accuse men they are angry with any more often than people falsely report other felony crimes. Only 2% to 10% of rape reports are found to be false; the same number as for other crimes.
- Almost 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men experience rape during their lifetime.
23ABC reached out to the KHSD, but they say they can’t comment on pending litigation.
“The question becomes, how or why did the school district or the high school ignore it," asked Rodriguez. "They either knew it, it’s hard to believe they didn’t know about the history, or at the very least, they should have known had they been doing their due diligence.”
Rodriguez says that due diligence includes the school district catching the pattern of harmful behavior. He hopes bringing awareness to this issue will help make schools a safer place for kids.
"I’m hoping that the high school district will wake up and say, enough is enough. We got to start training, serious training,” added Rodriguez.
Rodriguez adds that in about 2-3 months, a trial date will be set. But he doesn’t expect that to be before the end of next year or early 2023.
One of the reasons for filing the suit according to documents is the emotional distress faced by the victim.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, here are some things you should do from the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.
- Get to a safe place as quickly as possible and call 9-1-1 or the 24-Hour Alliance Hotline.
- Don’t bathe or shower, change your clothes, brush your teeth, eat or drink, as evidence of the assault may be lost.
- Get to a hospital. A medical exam is necessary to collect evidence and to determine the extent of any injuries. Even if you do not want to report the assault, it is still a good idea to be examined for injuries.
- Seek counseling.
- Sometimes a sexual assault can result in the victim contracting a sexually transmitted infection, but not have symptoms until months later. Any contact with the bodily fluids of an HIV-positive person puts you at risk of contracting HIV. Although repeated contact with HIV is usually necessary for infection, always consult a physician if you think you may have been exposed to any sexually transmitted disease.
In addition, the Alliance says you have rights as a victim of sexual assault:
- You have the right to determine whether or not you want to report the assault to Law Enforcement.
- You have the right to have an advocate present at the hospital exam (PC§264.2) and at any interview by Law Enforcement, the District Attorney or Defense Attorney (PC§679.04(a)).
- You have the right to be treated in a considerate and sensitive manner by Law Enforcement, medical personnel, advocates, and prosecution personnel.
- You have the right not to be subjected to any type of discrimination because of your gender, race, age, class, religion, occupation or sexual orientation.