A former student at the Bishop’s School in La Jolla, one of the region’s most prestigious and expensive private high schools, has filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging a former teacher sexually assaulted him over a number of years on the school’s campus, at her house, and at local restaurants.
"Our client went there for a great education. He was advertised a great education and a safe environment in one of the most prestigious schools in San Diego and in the State of California. When he got there he was preyed upon by a teacher and was sexually abused," attorney Alex Cunny from Orange County law firm Manly Stewart and Finaldi told NBC 7 Investigates in an interview.
The student claims his former computer science teacher began grooming him in 1994 when he was a sophomore at the elite private high school, where tuition costs as much as $36,000 a year.
According to the complaint, the teacher, who was 32 years old at the time of the alleged abuse, would hold the student’s hand and flirt with him on campus. The flirting then allegedly turned to sex inside the computer science lab, at hotels, restaurants, and at a local park.
At the time, the student did not report the abuse to family or law enforcement.
Cunny said he believes administrators were aware of the alleged abuse of not only his client but of others as well.
"An administrator at the school saw our client as well as the perpetrator exiting her classroom, just the two of them, after he had just been abused," Cunny said.
"This is not the only perpetrator at Bishop’s that was reported," the attorney added. "There are many other victims, many other perpetrators. It shows there's a culture there where student safety is put second to the reputation of the school."
Cunny said his client came forward after he received an email from Bishop’s School administrators in July 2018 as school administrators looked into "allegations of abusive teachers."
According to the complaint, the email from Bishop’s about the investigation brought the past abuse back to the surface.
The victim, known only as "John H. Doe" in the complaint, did not agree to an interview. In a statement to NBC 7 Investigates, however, he stressed the importance of reporting sex abuse when it occurs.
"I have chosen to keep my name private as is the right of every victim of child sexual assault in California," read his statement. "My message to other victims of abuse at the Bishop’s School is -- contact law enforcement. Hold your abuser accountable. Protect other children. Your privacy will be respected, and you will be believed."
The lawsuit names Bishop’s School, as well as the alleged perpetrator. NBC 7 is not publishing the teacher’s name as they have not been charged with a crime, nor has their name been posted publicly in court documents.
"This scandal-plagued school had every reason to be on guard given the long history of criminal sexual activity on their campus," reads a statement from the alleged victim’s attorneys.
"Instead, they ignored all the warning signs and allowed a teacher to sexually molest, harass and threaten our client for two years. The Bishop’s School is a prestigious institution which charges parents more than $37,000 per year in tuition. They advertise their affiliation with the Episcopal Dioceses to assure parents of the moral rectitude of the school. Yet, they failed miserably in their most basic responsibility—keeping their students safe from sexual predators."
NBC 7 reached out to Bishop's School for comment Tuesday and the school sent this statement:
"We are not aware of a lawsuit being filed against the School. The Bishop’s School is fully committed to the safety and well-being of all students past and present. Out of respect for the privacy of our community, it is not the School’s practice to share specific information about our students, alumni, parents, staff or faculty."