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LA schools to pay $52M in suit over coach sex assaults

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Posted at 7:57 AM, Oct 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-13 10:57:15-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lawyers for children who were sexually assaulted by a high school wrestling coach have settled a lawsuit with the Los Angeles Unified School District for $52 million, they announced Wednesday.

Attorneys for more than a dozen children and their families announced that the money has been paid and the suit dismissed.

The negligence and sexual battery suit — actually a consolidation of several suits — was filed against the nation's second-largest school district over sexual assaults committed by Terry Gillard, who in 2020 was sentenced to 71 years in state prison after being convicted of molesting nine boys and girls.

Gillard coached at John H. Francisco Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley and at a Boys and Girls Club. Prosecutors said that between 1991 and 2017, he sexually abused some of his wrestlers, ranging in age from 11 to 17 years old.

At his trial, jurors were told that Gillard once made an 11-year-old boy have sex with a woman in his car while he watched, then sexually abused the boy. Prosecutors also showed a video of Gillard sexually assaulting two girl wrestlers.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of victims ranging in age from 13 to 17, who allegedly were assaulted between 2012 and 2017.

The suit contended that the district and the Boys and Girls Club were negligent in hiring, supervision, training and education. Gillard was sued for sexual harassment and sexual battery.

The district agreed to settle the case without acknowledge wrongdoing. It did not immediately comment on the settlement Wednesday.

“The size of this settlement highlights the tremendous harm done to our clients by Terry Gillard and the abject failure of LAUSD to protect the students at Francis Polytechnic High School from this truly deranged predator," Morgan Stewart, one of the attorneys for the victims, said in a statement.

The school district had a Student Safety Investigation Team that was tasked with investigating sexual abuse allegations against employees.

The suit alleged that in 2016, following complaints, Gillard had denied sexual misconduct to a school district investigator.

The investigator believed he was lying but, the suit alleged, he wasn’t permitted to relay that information to administrators who were deciding whether Gillard should be allowed to return to the high school. He was allowed back on campus where he continued to molest children, according to the suit.