Senator Martha Escutia Seeks Independent Investigation Of Rampant Sex Abuse Of Latino Students In LA Unified School District

Call Comes in Wake of Abuse Uncovered at Elementary School in Wilmington

Jan 28, 2013, 14:25 ET from Manly & Stewart

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Former state Senator Martha Escutia, an attorney and child sex abuse survivors advocate, today called for an immediate investigation into what she believes is a pattern of sexual abuse disproportionately perpetrated against young Latino students by teachers and other employees at schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District.  Escutia's comments came after law enforcement officials announced the arrest of former LAUSD teacher Robert Pimentel on charges that he sexually abused at least 20 children at George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School in the Wilmington district of Los Angeles.

Attorney Escutia, who along with Newport Beach lawyer John Manly represents more than 30 children abused by teachers at Miramonte Elementary School in South Los Angeles, said that "there now appears to be a consistent pattern of mass sexual abuse that has occurred almost exclusively in poor and largely Latino schools run by LAUSD." Escutia said that an investigation is needed "to find out why that is the case." 

In addition to the George De La Torre and Miramonte schools, sexual abuse perpetrated by teachers and other employees at LAUSD schools has reportedly occurred at numerous other campuses in poor, Latino-heavy neighborhoods. These schools include Telfair Elementary in Pacoima, where former third grade teacher Paul Chapel abused numerous children. Chapel was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison for molesting 13 youngsters. 

Escutia said she is extremely concerned that reports of abuse by Latino children and parents are often ignored, and that the undocumented parents of victims are afraid to report abuse out of fear they will be deported. "Poor people, especially the undocumented, are particularly vulnerable to abusers and the failure of institutions such as LAUSD who are supposed to protect their children," said Escutia.  She noted that recent documents disclosed by the Los Angeles Archdiocese of the Catholic Church also evidenced a disproportionate number of sexual crimes committed against Latino children by known predator priests who were moved by the Church into poor Latino communities.

"We need to know why LAUSD is unable to protect children and why a majority of these sex abusers end up teaching at poor Latino schools," said Escutia. She said that an investigation should focus on whether known abusers were intentionally assigned or moved by LAUSD officials to the poorest and mostly Latino schools.

About John Manly and Manly & Stewart: The founding partner at Manly & Stewart in Irvine, California, John Manly was named one of California's "Top 100 Attorneys" by the Los Angeles Daily Journal and is California's preeminent attorney representing victims of sexual abuse. Over the past decade, John and his legal team have been heavily involved in the most significant sexual abuse actions litigated across the nation, assisting in the recovery of more than a billion dollars—through trial and settlement—on behalf sexual abuse victims. 

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About Martha Escutia and The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP: Senator Martha Escutia (Ret.) is a former member of the California State Assembly and State Senate and is a co-founding partner of the Newport Beach-based law firm, The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP.  While a member of the California Legislature, Senator Escutia was instrumental in passing new laws that greatly enhanced the ability of sexual abuse survivors to bring civil claims for damages. The Senators Firm represents individuals and families who have been injured or abused.

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SOURCE Manly & Stewart