Skip to main content

San Francisco school district sued over childhood sexual abuse claim

Lowell High School students leave campus during lunch hour in the Sunset District SFUSD campus on May 25, 2022. | Source: Camille Cohen/The Standard

The San Francisco Unified School District is being sued over a childhood sexual abuse claim involving a former Lowell High School teacher and counselor who died in 2018.

According to the Corsiglia, McMahon and Allard law firm in an email this week, the former teacher, Harlan Edelman, was not properly supervised by the school district and that led to the sexual abuse of a male student only identified as “John Doe.”

READ MORE: They Were Accused of Sexual Misconduct. SF Schools Let Them Quietly Resign

The law firm alleged that during the 2004-2005 school year, Edelman began “grooming” Doe to gain the student’s trust and sexually violate him.

“Edelman, under the guise of helping Doe raise his grades, began to give Doe rides home along with buying him meals and gifts. With school officials turning a blind-eye to Edelman’s behavior, he is alleged to have abused Doe on the Lowell High School campus, including in his office and classroom,” the law firm said in its email.

“Doe believed that Edelman had a lot of clout at Lowell High School and could help him achieve his academic goals. Lowell High School is one of the best high schools in the country and historically has test scores ranking among the Top 10 Public Schools in California,” it said.

The student sought treatment in 2008 due to his ordeal, according to the law firm.

It noted that after his teaching stint in Lowell High School, Edelman taught at SFUSD’s Academy of Arts and Sciences and was an employee of the school district until his resignation in September 2013.

The law firm also cited Edelman’s arrest in a 2014 sting operation by a Mountain View undercover police officer after he arranged to meet with a 17-year-old boy on a gay website.

The former teacher pleaded guilty and was convicted of distributing or sending harmful matter that depicts a minor engaging in sexual conduct with the intent of arousing or appealing to sexual desires or for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts.

“As a result of the news reports, John Doe came forward again and told his story to Mountain View police,” the law firm said.

In an email Wednesday, SFUSD spokesperson Laura Dudnick said despite Edelman’s resignation in 2013, “the district is deeply concerned by any allegation of misconduct, harassment or abuse.”

“When SFUSD learns of an allegation against an employee, we take every step to investigate and respond to the matter within the scope of our jurisdiction,” Dudnick said.

The Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard law firm said it is encouraging those with information about Edelman to reach out at (408) 289-1417.

Copyright © 2023 Bay City News, Inc.