Friday, June 26, 2009

Student wins $1.25 million from secretive SDUSD

Steve Cologne, who is representing San Diego Unified School District in this San Diego Unified School District case, is working hard to keep evidence out of court in the Rodger Hartnett case, in which he is representing the folks at San Diego County Office of Education.

Student wins $1.25 million in sex lawsuit
San Diego News Network
By Staff, City News Service
June 25, 2009

A jury awarded $1.25 million to a former student at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Paradise Hills, finding that the principal and others failed to report a suspected sexual relationship between the student and her teacher.

The San Diego Superior Court jury reached its verdict Monday against the San Diego Unified School District for its role in allowing teacher John Kyujoon Lee to engage in a sexual relationship with the student from the time she was 16 until she graduated in 2006.

Jurors awarded a total of $250,000 for past and future psychiatric counseling for the student, now 21, and $1 million for emotional distress and related damages.

Of that total amount, the jury found that Lee was 60 percent responsible and the school district 40 percent responsible.

Lee settled prior to the civil trial for an undisclosed sum. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison after pleading guilty to statutory rape and other sex-related charges for having a sexual relationship with a teenage student in September 2007.

Attorneys for the plaintiff said the main reason for the suit was to “force school districts to pay attention to what is so obviously a growing problem, and to ensure that future kids are free from abuse by their teachers.”

Attorney Steve Cologne, who represented the San Diego Unified School District, said the district is disappointed with the jury award, considering Lee and the student concealed their affair from everyone.

[Maura Larkins' comment: Concealing information is your job, right, Mr. Cologne? Isn't that why schools pay you so much money? I'm guessing that you tried hard to keep evidence out of this case, too.]

Cologne said an appeal of the verdict is possible.

“We’re looking at all our options,” the attorney said.

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