A Coronado teacher and coach who was accused of sexually assaulting a former player but was not charged with any crime is suing the Coronado Unified School District for libel.
Water polo coach Randy Burgess was put on administrative leave in April 2017 while the district investigated a student's allegation that he molested them several years prior, according to the complaint.
He was allowed back in the classroom in November of that year after the 6-month window the accuser had to file a claim had expired.
About a month before that, the district released the following statement in connection with the student's claim:
"The collective focus and priority of the Coronado Unified School District is teaching and learning while nurturing a safe and supportive environment for those within our shared community. Allegations have been made against a Coronado Unified School District staff member. The District takes such claims very seriously. When the allegations became known, the District followed policy and protocol by taking immediate action to protect the safety and security of District students and staff. As this is a personnel related issue, the District has no further comment."
Burgess' complaint alleges the statement was "reasonably understood" to mean he was "guilty of, or at least credibly charged with, being a child molester and therefore needed to be removed from the classroom to protect students.
The complaint also says Burgess was exposed to hatred, contempt, and ridicule, and was shunned or avoided as a result.
It also claims the district made no attempt to exonerate him and did not correct the statement to describe the real reason for his removal.
Burgess told NBC 7 in November that he’d been dealing with anxiety and depression since the accusations surfaced. He says he has drawn strength from the support he’s received from current and former students, parents and fellow teachers.
“I certainly hope that this young man who made these allegations….if he’s having personal issues in his life, I certainly hope he has an opportunity to take care of those,” said Burgess.
Burgess says he was more upset at the district for dragging this out for eight months.
“My concern is retaliation by the district because I challenged the fact that they wanted me to just be quiet and sit out and allow this run its course,” he said.
NBC 7 reached out to the district for comment and was told it does not comment on pending litigation.