Three ex-students at Rosemead High sue district, allege sex abuse

The alleged sexual abuse of three Rosemead High School students between their freshmen and senior years by a trio of coaches and teachers is at the heart of a negligence lawsuit filed against the educators and their employer, the El Monte Union High School School District.

The plaintiffs, who are identified in the lawsuit just by the initials CH, DC and JL, attended Rosemead High between 2005 and 2011. They are now 31 to 33 years old.

“This is about the misdeeds of coaches and teachers and about a culture of covering up those misdeeds by the administrators throughout the district for years,” said Luis Carrillo, the plaintiffs’ attorney.

The plaintiffs’ names were excluded from the court records because they were minors at the time of the events. In addition to the school district, the lawsuit names former Rosemead High tennis coach Wing Chan, former teacher Alex Rai and former cross-country coach Eduardo Escobar as defendants.

The lawsuit, which was filed May 6 in L.A. County Superior Court in Pomona, accuses all three of unlawful childhood sexual assault, abuse, harassment, and a variety of types of misconduct.

None of the three could be reached for comment. Nor did El Monte Union Supt. Edward Zuniga or Assistant Supt. of Human Resources Robin Torres respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit alleges that Rai began grooming CH in her junior and senior years of high school, between 2008 and 2009. It also accuses him of sending explicit photos of himself to her and touching her multiple times in a sexual manner.

DC was 14 and 15 in 2008 and 2009 when her alleged abuse began as a member of the cross-county team that Escobar coached. The lawsuit accuses Escobar of pulling down DC’s shorts and touching her in a sexual manner while ostensibly helping her alleviate a leg cramp.

DC reported the abuse to Rai, who in turn informed the school administration. Administrators conducted an investigation, but did not report the child abuse to police, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit accuses Rai of groping DC while on campus until her graduation in 2011, then having sexual relations with DC at his home the year after she graduated.

JL’s sexual harassment began her freshman year and was perpetrated by Chan, according to the lawsuit. In addition to grooming JL, the lawsuit accuses Chan of having sex with her while she was a minor.

The lawsuit alleges that “it was so well known on campus that Chan would have sex with JL that almost all students and faculty knew of the relationship but did nothing to stop it or prevent the abuse.” The lewd acts took place between 2005 and 2009, according to the lawsuit.

All three plaintiffs have talked about lowered self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, difficulty sleeping and flashbacks since the alleged abuse.

“They’re survivors but they’re still in recovery,” Carrillo said. “When a child gets traumatized at a young age, that can often lead to lifelong consequences.”

The lawsuit claims that the district “should have known the perpetrators had engaged in unlawful sexually-related conduct with minors.” It further says the district had a duty to inform parents of the abuse, but personnel “negligently and/or intentionally suppressed, concealed or failed to disclose the information.”

The district, Carrillo said, was filled with “administrators turning a blind eye.”

To support its allegations about the atmosphere at the school, the lawsuit cites “The Predator’s Playground” by Business Insider journalist Matt Drange, a Rosemead High School alumnus. Published on Oct. 3, the 89-page report documented cases of abuse at Rosemead High as far back as the 1980s involving 20 educators, and often resulting in minimal punishment.

“This case and the uncovering of all of this isn’t possible without Matt Drange,” Carrillo said. “We’re looking forward to our day in court.”

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