Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Lodi Unified School District to pay family of student assaulted by bus driver $4.75 million

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 10:17 am

The Lodi Unified School District has agreed to a $4.75 million settlement in the case of a special-needs student who was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a former bus driver.

The settlement was announced Tuesday in San Joaquin County Superior Court and at a press conference outside the Stockton courthouse by the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

A jury unanimously determined that the school district was liable for hiring Richard Dale Evans despite district officials’ knowledge that Evans had a misdemeanor conviction for having sex with a prostitute in downtown Stockton.

“(Lodi Unified) didn’t check for references,” Vince Finaldi, an attorney for the plaintiff, said at the press conference. “They said they relied on intuition.”

A $4.2 million settlement was offered in late October, but Lodi Unified officials and the district’s insurance company, Nor Cal Relief, rejected the offer, Finaldi said.

Nor Cal Relief is a self-insurance that is funded by tax dollars from the 330-member public school districts, Lodi Unified Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer said in an emailed statement.

“Lodi Unified School District is pleased that Nor Cal Relief and the plaintiffs in this case have reached a settlement that will provide resources for the family of the student who was harmed,” Nichols-Washer said in her emailed statement Tuesday afternoon. “The district regards this situation very seriously.”

Attorney Marina Pitts, representing the school district, wasn’t immediately available for comment Tuesday.

In a 2011 criminal trial, Evans pleaded guilty to multiple counts of child molestation, including kidnapping and lewd acts on a minor. He received a 25-year prison sentence.

The victim, who was 8 at the time and is now 11, is suffering from fear, anxiety and emotional distress, according to the two-page claim filed in the lawsuit.

The jury in the civil trial determined on Feb. 27 that Lodi Unified was 90 percent liable and Evans 10 percent. The second phase of the trial, to determine how much in damages Evans and the school district should pay the child’s family, was scheduled to be completed by the end of the week.

“I think this settlement is the first step in the family’s recovery,” said Ken Meleyco, another attorney for the plaintiff. “This child needs therapy right away, and with this settlement, she’ll get it.”

Meleyco and Finaldi said they hope the enormity of the settlement will prompt school district trustees and administrators to change their hiring practices.

Lodi Unified administrators said during the trial that they followed the same procedures for years, Meleyco said. They knew that Evans pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of having sex with a prostitute in a potato chip delivery truck in 2000, yet Lodi Unified hired him as a full-time school bus driver in 2004, Meleyco said.

“How that can be is beyond me,” Finaldi said. “Something’s got to be done in this district.”

Nichols-Washer was unavailable for comment Tuesday about the possibility of changing board policy.

“The health and safety of our students is the highest priority for Lodi Unified School District,” Nichols-Washer said in her emailed statement. “We understand how important this is to the parents of our community who entrust their children to us each day.”

Evans was fired in November 2010 after the girl told her parents about the incidents, Meleyco said. The two incidents, in October and November 2010, were filmed by videotape.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

More about

More about

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.

5 comments:

  • robert maurer posted at 9:06 am on Mon, Mar 11, 2013.

    mason day Posts: 437

    Where there is one victim, there are usually more. How much more will it cost the taxpayers if there are,now that a precedent has been set. For that kind of money,a foundation or clinic could be established in the victim's name to help other victims of these sick types of violations. My heart goes out to the victims and their families of these crimes. The perverts need to be stopped by any means, so that children can be children and grow up in a safe environment.

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 7:51 am on Mon, Mar 11, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    Ms. Dean, not only LUSD but ALL city of Lodi council, management, staff, including LPD and LFD. Why do these employees get a free pass. And since alcohol has now been given the status of an addicting drug it should be included in the testing schedule.

     
  • Betty Dean posted at 12:49 am on Sun, Mar 10, 2013.

    Betty Dean Posts: 144

    LUSD should conduct yesrly fingerprinting as well as drug screening for ALL employees. Sad for this family they deserve every penny!

     
  • barbara wells posted at 7:16 pm on Sat, Mar 9, 2013.

    barbara wells Posts: 24

    Jacobs, You betcha, and the kids in Lodi Unified School District will be out of a few computers at the least.

     
  • Robert Jacobs posted at 3:48 pm on Sat, Mar 9, 2013.

    Robert Jacobs Posts: 298

    I bet you mom and dad own a new home and two brand new cars this time next year...

     

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 66

Loading…

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists