UNITED STATES NEWS

Southern California jury delivers $135M verdict in molestation case involving middle school teacher

Oct 11, 2023, 12:31 PM

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A jury has delivered a $135 million verdict in a molestation case involving a middle school teacher, determining that negligence by a Southern California school district allowed the abuse of two students during the 1990s.

Jurors in Riverside County Superior Court decided Tuesday that the Moreno Valley Unified School District is 90% responsible for the damages, while former teacher Thomas Lee West is 10% responsible, according to plaintiffs’ lawyers. The ruling means the district will pay $121.5 million.

“The verdict that was reached is unprecedented, and the district is weighing its options moving forward,” the school district said in a statement Wednesday. It’s estimated that insurance will only cover about 11% of the district’s portion of damages, the statement said.

During a criminal trial, West was convicted of committing lewd or lascivious acts with minors. He is currently serving a 52 years-to-life sentence in Mule Creek State Prison.

The two former students said in their civil lawsuit that they were repeatedly abused by West during 1996 and 1997 when they were sixth graders at Vista Heights Middle School east of Los Angeles. The lawsuit said district officials should have known that West posed a threat to students.

As a result of the abuse, the victims have suffered “life-long mental and emotional distress,” their lawyers said in a statement.

“The psychological effects of the severe and pervasive abuse have left both men shells of who they would have been but for the abuse made possible by the District,” the statement said.

The district said it has implemented many changes since the incidents occurred and it continues to monitor and update industry best practices.

“Although it happened under a previous administration over 27 years ago, the district understands the lifelong impact of these traumatic experiences. The district knows that it can never undo the past, the hurt and anguish suffered by these individuals,” the district statement said. “We truly hope they continue to recover from these incidents.”

United States News

Associated Press

Vehicle crashes into building where birthday party held, injuring children and adults, sheriff says

BERLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A vehicle drove through a boat club building where a children’s birthday celebration was taking place Saturday, seriously injuring a number of children and adults, a Michigan sheriff said in a news release. The victims were taken to several area hospitals after the crash that occurred at about 3 p.m. […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

3 hospitalized after knife attack on boat in New York City, along East River in Brooklyn

NEW YORK (AP) — A knife attack on a boat at a New York City pier Saturday resulted in the hospitalization of three people, police said. A 911 call came in around 5 p.m. reporting the assault along the East River near 58th Street and the Brooklyn Army Terminal warehouse, Detective Sophia Mason said. The […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Autoworkers union celebrates breakthrough win in Tennessee and takes aim at more plants in the South

DALLAS (AP) — The United Auto Workers’ overwhelming election victory at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee is giving the union hope that it can make broader inroads in the South, the least unionized part of the country. The UAW won a stunning 73% of the vote at VW after losing elections in 2014 and 2019. […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Conditions improve for students shot in Maryland park on ‘senior skip day’

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — Three of the five youths shot in a suburban Washington, D.C., park during a high school “senior skip day” gathering have been released from the hospital, while the condition of the most seriously injured has improved, authorities said Saturday. Police in Greenbelt, Maryland, are asking the public to share video footage […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

New York lawmakers pass $237 billion budget addressing housing construction and migrants

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York lawmakers passed a $237 billion state budget Saturday that includes plans to spur housing construction and combat unlicensed marijuana stores. The package also includes a raft of other measures ranging from expediting the closure of some state prisons, addressing the recent influx of migrants, and continuing the pandemic-era policy […]

5 hours ago

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO - DECEMBER 9, 2019: A copy of the record album, 'Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison'...

Associated Press

Record Store Day celebrates indie retail music sellers as they ride vinyl’s popularity wave

Record Store Day, a holiday invented at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees in 2007, will be observed Saturday.

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Southern California jury delivers $135M verdict in molestation case involving middle school teacher