After more than three weeks of trial, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury today awarded just over $3M to a young sex abuse victim represented by The Senators Firm. The trial involved two children who were abused by former Telfair Elementary School teacher and convicted pedophile, Paul Chapel, who allegedly engaged in the systematic sexual abuse of more than a dozen elementary students several years ago. LAUSD had previously settled a number of claims arising from from Chapel’s abuse for amounts that ranged from $50,000 to $3M, but had never defended a case at trial.
The District and its lawyers steadfastly refused to offer reasonable settlements to our client and another victim, despite evidence they had been abused for long durations and were likely to suffer from permanent emotional injuries. Instead, the District employed a tactic used to hold jury awards to a minimum by “admitting” liability and “apologizing” to the victims’ families at trial, but the strategy ended up backfiring when the jury learned that no apologies had previously been offered by any District employees, including the principal at the school, who had actually allowed Chapel to remain in the classroom for several weeks while the school and authorities conducted an investigation into his activities.
The crux of the District’s case was that the boys had “recovered” from any trauma they experienced, or, alternatively, that any emotional upset they currently suffer from was the result of family troubles, their impoverished backgrounds, or underlying disabilities such as attention deficit disorder. Attorneys and experts for the children countered that Chapel had selected the boys precisely because they were vulnerable, and that the abuse had drastically complicated there already challenging lives. Expert psychiatrists predicted that the abuse would leave long lasting emotional scars that would ebb and flow and would become more debilitating at certain milestones of life, such as their first relationships, marriages and child births.
The Senators Firm has been at the forefront of litigation against LAUSD stemming from the District’s pattern of negligently hiring and supervising teaching personnel at a variety of campuses. The firm was co-lead counsel in the infamous Miramonte Elementary School cases which resulted in a settlement of over $139,000,000 paid to dozens of abuse victims and their families in 2014. The firm also represents additional Telfair victims, as well as students abused at George de la Torre Elementary School in Wilmington, Franklin High School, and others.
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