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Family of abused teen files claim against SRVUSD

Argues district negligence in oversight of ex-Cal High coach recently convicted of lewd acts with boys

A claim has been filed against the San Ramon Valley school district on behalf of a teen identified as a victim of the former California High School wrestling coach who last month pleaded guilty to eight felonies for lewd acts with three boys.

"It is really important for the family to know how this can happen over such a long period of time with multiple victims," attorney B. Robert Allard, who represents the boy and his family, said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Allard's San Jose-based firm, Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, submitted the government tort claim to the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) this week. Claims are generally required before a lawsuit for money damages can be brought against a public entity.

SRVUSD spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich confirmed that the district received a tort claim Monday related to ex-Cal High wrestling head coach Kevin Lopez.

"We were extremely saddened to learn of Mr. Lopez's actions. He was an at-will coach who was released immediately. The safety of our students is our top priority at the San Ramon Valley Unified School District," Graswich said.

The claim states the boy, now 16, was sexually assaulted and molested between December 2013 and last September by Lopez after joining the wrestling team at the San Ramon campus.

Lopez, 27, of San Ramon was arrested last Sept. 9, soon after police say they were first notified of a possible "inappropriate relationship" between Lopez and a child who was more than 10 years younger than him.

Contra Costa County prosecutors later charged Lopez with 20 felony counts stemming from lewd and lascivious acts with minors. He accepted a plea deal on Feb. 6, admitting to eight felonies for acts involving three boys between 2003 and last September in exchange for a state prison sentence of 10 years and eight months.

The SRVUSD relieved Lopez of his coaching duties after his arrest in September. But the claim filed this week contends the district should have done more, arguing it "negligently hired, supervised and/or retained" Lopez.

Allard said there were "multiple red flags" that should have prompted school officials -- mandatory reporters of abuse -- to contact police. "Clearly at this school there are some loopholes that exist," he added, without elaborating on specifics.

The claim, which seeks an unspecified amount of money exceeding $10,000, states that the teen has faced "physical, mental and emotional pain and suffering" as a result of the abuse.

According to the claim, the boy was a student at the San Ramon campus from August 2013 through September 2014. The teen is not identified by name in the document, instead referred to as "John Doe."

According to the claim, the teen began wrestling on the Cal High team in December 2013 with Lopez as his head coach. The abuse started around that time and continued until the boy's parents first learned of the molestation Sept. 8, the claim states.

The parents reportedly found inappropriate conversations on their son's cellphone and immediately took the phone to police, who also recovered pertinent deleted messages.

Allard said one goal of the claim -- and the lawsuit that he expects will follow -- is to help the family and community at large fully understand what he called "the district's lack of oversight with regard to Mr. Lopez."

Once a claim is presented, the public entity must act on it within 45 days, and provide written notice of the action taken. The entity can reject the claim, give notice the claim is insufficient, do nothing or approve the claim.

The tort claim filed Monday is the only claim the SRVUSD has received to date related to Lopez, according to Graswich.

A Cal High grad, Lopez had served on the Grizzlies' wrestling coaching staff since 2005. He had also been a small group youth leader at New Life Church in San Ramon and Alamo, according to authorities.

Lopez pleaded guilty to four counts of committing lewd acts upon a child 14-15 years old, two counts of distributing lewd materials to a minor and two counts of arranging a meeting with a minor for the purpose of engaging in lewd and lascivious behavior.

Allard confirmed that the teen in the claim was one of the three victims from the criminal case against Lopez.

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Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Marie
a resident of Danville
on Mar 4, 2015 at 10:32 pm

May God bless these children, the victim's families, and the family of the coach to be strong enough to deal with this horrible situation. I pray for you.


2 people like this
Posted by William
a resident of Blackhawk
on Mar 5, 2015 at 9:01 am

These emotionally stunted sexual predators sneak into all kinds of access to kids. It is highly unlikely that there are not those that suspected something going on but did nothing. The school district, unfortunately, will be paying out a huge settlement as they failed to have in place monitors that look into all staff that work with vulnerable kids. This is a simple fix, but it requires thinking outside the box and they have no box.


7 people like this
Posted by Sara
a resident of Danville
on Mar 5, 2015 at 9:32 am

SRVUSD does ignore warnings. Most bullying complaints are ignored by the schools and the district. They tend to dismiss complaints, especially when the person doing the bullying is a child of a PTA President or a large donor. Go figure.


Like this comment
Posted by Realist
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 8, 2015 at 10:05 pm

So true Sara. I have been witness to the child of a large donor who committed an expellable offense and only received one hour sitting in the school lobby. I did bring this to the attention of the school Principal and Superintendent.Nothing happened, although I have documented the incident for future use.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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