LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A consolidated lawsuit brought against the Los Angeles Unified School District in which multiple plaintiffs alleged they were sexually abused by a former wrestling coach at Poly High School in Sun Valley has been tentatively settled.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs filed court papers on Friday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard J. Burdge stating that a “conditional” accord was reached in the cases filed against the LAUSD, the Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley in Pacoima and the former coach, Terry Gillard, just days before Tuesday’s scheduled start of trial. No terms were divulged and the plaintiffs’ attorneys say they expect to file a request for dismissal of the case by Sept. 21.
“The unfortunate facts of this case are by now well known to the court,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys stated in their court papers. “These consolidated proceedings involve 18 victims of the most vile and reprehensible sexual abuse perpetrated on plaintiffs between 2014 and 2017 by a now criminally-convicted pedophile wrestling coach that LAUSD negligently employed and supervised.”
Gillard was sentenced in October 2019 to 71 years in state prison for dozens of sex crimes involving nine children, some who were preteens at the time their coach abused them. In May 2019, a jury found Gillard, then 58 and a Sylmar resident, guilty of 47 felony and misdemeanor counts involving seven boys and two girls that he met through the wrestling teams at Poly High School and the Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley between 1991 and 2017.
The lawsuits alleged the LAUSD and the Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley had prior knowledge of Gillard’s misconduct and should have removed him from having contact with children.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys alleged the litigation spotlighted failures in the LAUSD’s Student Safety Investigation Team, which was lauded by the district because it was comprised of former law enforcement professionals retained to investigate allegations of sexual abuse against LAUSD staff members.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys alleged that LAUSD administrators forbade the SSIT team from fully investigating claims of misconduct and further preclude them from providing their opinions on credibility or conclusions as to alleged abusers that they investigate. This effectively rendered the entire purpose of any investigation as worthless, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
Although the LAUSD investigator believed that Gillard was lying about denying sexual misconduct in 2016, the investigator was not permitted to relay that information to administrators who were deciding whether to permit Gillard to return to Poly High School, the plaintiffs’ attorneys alleged.
The administration allowed Gillard back on campus and he continued to sexually abuse minor students, the plaintiffs’ lawyers alleged.