$52-million settlement over sexual abuse by LAUSD coach

Victims of a former Sun Valley High School wrestling coach convicted of molesting nine children are to receive a $52 million settlement in a lawsuit alleging the Los Angeles Unified School District had of former aware of sexual misconduct and did nothing about it.

The settlement, which involves 15 victims and their families, comes two years after Terry Gillard was sentenced to 71 years in prison for dozens of sex crimes involving nine boys and girls, some of whom were teenagers, when he attacked them.

He met his victims through his work with the wrestling teams at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley and the Tigers Wrestling Club at the Boys & Girls Club of the San Fernando Valley, which was also being sued.

“The magnitude of this settlement underscores the tremendous damage Terry Gillard has caused our clients and LAUSD’s abject failure to protect Francis Polytechnic High School students from this truly insane predator,” said lead attorney Morgan Stewart. “Our lawsuit also exposed LAUSD’s Student Safety Investigation Team as a fraud and PR gimmick.”

The lawsuit accused LA Unified of failing to adequately investigate previous allegations and preventing the security team from doing its job. According to the lawsuit, a school investigator, although he believed Gillard lied when he denied allegations of sexual misconduct in 2016, was barred from providing that information to administrative authorities, who are deciding whether to allow Gillard to return to Poly High School. Administration allowed Gillard back on campus where he continued to sexually abuse students, the lawsuit alleges.

In May 2019, a San Fernando jury convicted Gillard of 37 felonies and 10 misdemeanors, including indecent assault on a child under the age of 16, oral copulation with a minor, procuring children for indecency, and child molestation.

A young wrestler told the court at Gillard’s sentencing of the agony she felt seeing her abuser again. “I’m struggling to learn how to live without the constant fear of a reunion,” she said. “I’m disgusted with myself for trusting you so stupidly.”

Another victim of Gillard’s said he was lured with promises of wrestling victories. “I knew something was wrong and the day the event happened in the back of the Mitsubishi it was shocking,” he said. “You always told me I’m the only one to trust. I could never betray.”

During the trial, the jury heard testimony that Gillard had sexually abused young wrestlers back in 1991 when he instructed an 11-year-old boy to have sex with a woman in the backseat of the coach’s Cadillac while he watched. According to the public prosecutor’s office, he then involved himself in a sexual act with the minor.

More recently, from 2014 to 2017, Gillard directed young wrestlers to engage in sexual acts while he watched in his vehicles or in a van owned and maintained by the Boys and Girls Club, according to court records.

“LAUSD has a long and sad history of teachers and coaches covering up child abuse,” the victim’s attorney, Ron Labriola, said of the settlement. “We now know that the mechanism put in place by LAUSD to investigate these crimes is a sham.”

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-12/52-million-settlement-for-kids-sexually-abused-by-lausd-coach $52-million settlement over sexual abuse by LAUSD coach

Alley Einstein

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