SAN DIEGO (CNS) — Four former La Jolla High School students who allege they were sexually abused by their physics teacher, who allegedly received no discipline from the school district, announced Thursday they were filing suit against both the teacher and the San Diego Unified School District.
The suit is one of several filed as a result of AB 218, a state law extending the statute of limitations for alleged victims of sexual abuse, allowing them to file lawsuits over the next three years that would otherwise be barred.
When asked for comment regarding the suit filed against SDUSD and now-retired teacher Martin Teachworth, San Diego Unified spokeswoman said, “The district does not comment on pending litigation.”
The suit, filed on behalf of victims Loxie Gant, Emily Mandel, Maura Kanter and Jane Doe, covers conduct stretching from 2003 through 2015, in which Teachworth is accused of groping numerous students.
In the complaint, Gant says she reported her alleged assault in early 2003, but was asked by then-principal Dana Shelburne “if she was reporting this because of a grade and whether this was worth taking down a man’s career.” Gant was also told that other girls had made complaints against Teachworth and was asked if she was reporting him “because of the others.”
Nonetheless, he continued teaching until his retirement in 2017, with no concrete disciplinary action taken against him, the suit alleges.
He was once removed from his classroom for two weeks in 2016 on paid administrative leave after a student reported him, but returned to the classroom without any further reprimand, the complaint states.
The lawsuit also alleges that Voice of San Diego made a public records request in 2015 regarding any documentation of harassment or inappropriate sexual behavior on Teachworth’s part, but were told “no such records existed, thereby covering up its employee’s years of sexual misconduct,” according to the lawsuit.
The complaint states the records were withheld until last year, when the district was subpoenaed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.