LOS ANGELES – A judge has approved a $2.8 million settlement of a lawsuit brought against the Rowland Unified School District on behalf of a girl who alleged she was molested by her second-grade teacher.
Lawyers for plaintiff Jane Doe J.C., now 12 years old, filed court papers on Nov. 4 with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kevin C. Brazile outlining the settlement details, which state that $1.6 million of the $2.8 million would be left for the plaintiff after attorneys’ fees and other expenses are deducted. The accord, approved on Tuesday, needed a nod from the judge because the plaintiff is a minor.
The suit, brought on the Rowland Heights girl’s behalf in August 2018, alleged that second-grade teacher Jose Cruz Martinez molested the student during the 2017-18 school year. The complaint alleged sexual battery, sexual harassment, negligence, and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Defense lawyers maintained the district was not liable for Martinez’s alleged actions.
Martinez allegedly molested four girls on or between Aug. 1, 2017, and April 1, 2018. The plaintiff’s suit stated she was 7 years old when she was abused while a student at Rowland Elementary School.
“Martinez abused his position of authority to repeatedly engage in inappropriate sexual conduct with Jane Doe …” the suit alleged.
Much of the conditioning and sexual misconduct occurred on school grounds and in the classroom, according to the complaint. In addition to inappropriately touching the girl, Hernandez painted the child’s nails and gave her gifts and treats, the suit alleged.
“Notably, the district not only knew Martinez engaged in prior similar sexual misconduct with other district students but (that the) district also formally disciplined him for said prior similar sexual misconduct in October of 2012, years before he assaulted plaintiff,” the plaintiff’s attorneys stated in their court papers.
Martinez, then 54, of Rowland Heights, was sentenced in March 2019 to five years in prison for inappropriately touching five students on campus. He also was ordered to register as a sex offender.
Martinez pleaded no contest a month earlier to four felony counts of lewd act upon a child and one misdemeanor count of child molesting.