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George Washington High’s ex-athletic director molested student, groomed classmates for years, lawsuit claims

The San Francisco Unified School District building in San Francisco Calif., on Thursday, June 16, 2022. | Benjamin Fanjoy for The Standard

A George Washington High School athletic director who molested a student for years and groomed other minors was allowed to quietly resign from the San Francisco Unified School District without facing criminal consequences, according to a new lawsuit. 

The complaint filed Friday in San Francisco Superior Court accuses the sports director of assiduously abusing a student from 2012 to 2016 while grooming other underage female athletes at the Richmond district school by buying them lunch, letting them drive his car during class hours, buying them gifts, stretching their legs and thighs and spending time with them on weekends. 

The Standard is withholding the defendant’s name because he has not yet been served with the complaint and it’s unclear who his attorney is, or if he has one at all. The defendant did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent through multiple channels. 

The alleged perpetrator has not been an SFUSD employee since Aug. 30, 2017, according to district spokesperson Laura Dudnick. Like all volunteers and staff under district policy, the athletic director had undergone a criminal background check and fingerprinting, she added.

“SFUSD takes allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse very seriously," Dudnick wrote in an email. “When these claims were reported to SFUSD, we immediately launched an investigation and placed the employee on leave. Throughout the investigation, the district fully cooperated with law enforcement.” 

Since being reached by phone and email Monday, the San Francisco Police Department has not provided any information about the case.

The lawsuit claims the defendant would ask the plaintiff’s teacher to excuse her from class and then would escort her to the football locker room to sexually assault her before sending her back. The student’s teacher “thought the behavior was odd” and hesitated to release her from class but “took no action to report it,” the suit adds. 

The abuse took place over the course of several years at multiple locations, the lawsuit continues: “[The defendant] sexually assaulted plaintiff in various ways, including oral copulation and sexual intercourse in numerous places on school grounds, such as the locker room, the gym stairwell, the student government classroom, and [the defendant’s] office behind a locked door and a covered window.”

It began with grooming in 2012 before escalating into sexual abuse about two years later, according to the plaintiff’s attorney Lauren Cerri, of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard. In 2017, the plaintiff reported the abuse to the San Francisco Police Department—to no avail, Cerri said.

That’s when SFUSD “allowed [the defendant] to quietly resign,” according to the suit. 

The plaintiff sought to put SFUSD on notice for failing to prevent the abuse despite its obligations to do so under California’s mandated reporting laws, which require teachers, clergy, social workers and other officials to alert law enforcement to child abuse or face criminal liability. 

Cerri said the plaintiff spent the past several years trying to cope with the trauma of what happened before deciding to pursue litigation to prevent others from being victimized. 

“Sexual abuse victims process the abuse over time,” Cerri said. “She’s still dealing with the repercussions as a result. She doesn’t want what happened to her to happen to anyone else.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a comment from SFUSD.