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Molestation victim’s family seeks $25,000 in damages

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Posted: Friday, September 23, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:36 am, Fri Sep 23, 2011.

The family of a special needs student molested by a school bus driver has filed a civil lawsuit against Lodi Unified School District. They are seeking more than $25,000, according to a claim filed against the school district.

The victim’s family filed the lawsuit in August and a response was received from the district last Wednesday, according to court records. It is scheduled to be heard in civil court later this month.

The claimants charge the district violated the mandatory reporting laws related to suspected child abuse.

“The district’s negligent hiring, supervision and retention of Richard Dale Evans led to the sexual abuse and assault,” the original claim reads.

Evans, 59, pleaded guilty earlier this year to multiple counts of child molestation, including kidnapping and lewd acts on a minor. He received a 25-year sentence.

The victim is suffering from fear, anxiety and emotional distress, according to the two-page claim filed in April.

Attorney David Rancano was representing the victim and her family when they filed the claim against the school district earlier this year, but was recently replaced by the family because the legal process wasn’t moving as swiftly as they would’ve liked, he said.

“I wasn’t moving fast enough for them, I guess,” Rancano said.

While the criminal case — which featured video evidence of Evans’ actions — was a slam dunk for prosecutors, a civil case could be harder to win, Rancano said. “They will have to show that the district had knowledge of the actions and failed to act,” he said.

The family’s current lawyer, Markus Agbulos, declined to comment on the pending litigation. A legal respresentative from the school district could not be reached.

In Lodi Unified, all claims filed against the district are sent to a third-party administrator, as the district is self-insured. The claim is typically denied by the school board, which then starts the legal process.

For property and liability cases, an attorney is assigned by the third party if is determined that the case will go beyond the district’s $100,000 liability risk.

News-Sentinel staff writer Jordan Guinn contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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