A Corona high school teacher was arrested this past Thursday on suspicion of sexual misconduct with students. According to reports from the Corona Police Department, the Corona-Norco Unified School District informed local law enforcement of a possible inappropriate relationship between 31-year-old Summer Michelle Hansen and a former student on Tuesday. Upon investigation, additional victims under the age of 18 were also found to have had sexual contact with the high school teacher on school grounds of Centennial High School. Multiple victims have been identified and Hansen has been placed on leave by the school district.
The Corona Police Department served two warrants on Thursday, one in Corona and one in Riverside County. Although authorities say the investigation is ongoing, there was enough evidence to issue these warrants and arrest Hansen on suspicion of several counts of engaging in unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and oral copulation with a minor. Local law enforcement agencies encourage other victims to step forward and are also asking parents of male students who currently attend or have attended Centennial High School to speak with their children about any inappropriate conduct that may have occurred with the teacher.
Raising Awareness About the Prevalence of Sexual Abuse in Schools
This new arrest comes only days after a Simi Valley elementary school teacher was arrested for having sexual contact with a minor under the age of 14. This week, that same female teacher admitted to the misconduct and pleaded guilty to three counts of lewd conduct with a minor with sentencing enhancements for substantial sexual conduct. These two cases illustrate that sexual abuse takes many forms and that offenders come in all types and genders. It also speaks to the overwhelming prevalence of sexual abuse in schools and how the emotional nature of these acts makes abuse difficult to report and detect.
Teachers are adults with authority. By abusing their positions of power, sexual offenders create an atmosphere that commonly makes youth reluctant to report or talk about the abuse. As demonstrated by the Corona Police Department’s direct address to parents of students, it becomes the responsibility of parents and other adults – at least to a certain degree – to be aware of the signs of abuse, to be engaged in their children’s’ lives, and to act swiftly when warning signs or requests for help become apparent. While sexual abuse is immensely difficult to detect, there is something all adults can do to remain aware that abuse does occur and to take decisive action when they suspect such misconduct.
As we do place responsibility on parents, adults, and others in positions of authority to be aware of these unfortunate events, there is a certain degree of liability that exists. In school settings, for instance, teachers, administrators, and school districts are required to keep student safe and free from preventable harm. If there is sufficient evidence that school administrators knew misconduct was occurring on school grounds and failed to address the problem in a timely and sufficient fashion, they can be held liable. Additionally, if there is evidence to show that they should have known such misconduct was occurring, there may also be the possibility that they can be held liable.
By holding both offenders and others in authoritative positions responsible for their actions – or lack thereof – victims of sexual abuse can further their sense of justice and ensure that steps are taken to protect the safety of others. While criminal proceedings in sexual abuse cases can help victims obtain some sentiment of closure that will aid them in the healing process, they do not award victims compensation for the full scope of their damages. In order to hold offenders and others – including school districts – liable for their failures to keep children safe, sexual abuse victims can pursue legal actions in a civil court. At The Senators Firm, our California sexual abuse attorneys have represented many victims and families who have been forced to endure experiences just like the one reported in this story. We possess the legal insight, the extensive resources and connections, and the unwavering commitment needed to support and guide clients through their legal and personal journeys step-by-step. If you wish to learn more about sexual abuse in school or filing a sexual abuse claim, or if you would like to confidentially discuss your case with a member of our legal team, contact our firm today.