GILROY, Calif. (KTVU and wires)
A lawsuit filed today against the Gilroy Unified School District alleges school authorities failed to protect children from an ex-high school teacher accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to a girl.
Los Angeles-based attorney Gloria Allred filed the lawsuit today on behalf of the 15-year-old girl and her mother, Celest Benn, accusing the district of not taking any actions against Douglas Le, a science teacher
arrested last week on suspicion of child enticement.
"The School District gets an 'F' on protecting the students and we are determined to hold them accountable," Allred said during a news conference today outside district offices.
The 30-page complaint seeks a jury trial for damages against the district for negligence, sexual harassment and gender violence, among other accusations.
Le was arrested at his San Jose home on April 26 for allegedly posing as a female and luring children into sending harmful material online, police said.
The suit alleges that in October 2014, Le sent the girl "harassing" text messages while she was a student at Gilroy High School where she took his chemistry class, Allred said.
One of the messages indicated he wanted to defecate on her, Allred said.
Once Benn learned about the inappropriate messages, she reported them to the school district, Allred said. The lawsuit, filed late Thursday morning in Santa Clara County Superior Court, alleges the district violated state penal code under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, Allred said.
The suit also alleges the district didn't immediately report the text messages to any law enforcement agencies, the attorney said.
The district didn't "take any meaningful action" to address the complaint and the harassment continued, which led the girl to change schools, according to Allred.
"I am disgusted that the District took no action to protect my daughter," Benn said.
The family had moved across the country to attend Gilroy High School, but had to leave because of Le's behavior.
"They protected an individual who admittedly engaged in gross sexual misconduct and because they did nothing more children were harmed," Benn said.
The district's superintendent and board of education are "disturbed" by the allegations against Le, district spokeswoman Rachel Zlotziver said.
"However, our focus remains on the education and safety of all students," Zlotziver said, adding district officials are cooperating with San Jose police in their investigation.
Le, who resigned on Friday, allegedly carried out his "catfishing" outside of school property at private homes through personal computers, according to a statement Tuesday from the district board.
The district received a complaint in 2014 that Le sent text messages with inappropriate language to students, but found the actions didn't show that a crime occurred, board officials said.
The district determined Le's actions didn't merit dismissing him from the job and gave him a notice of unprofessional conduct, according to the board.