SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An $8.25 million settlement between a California school district and the families of three girls who were sexually molested by a teacher over several years calls for better training for staff and students on detecting signs of predatory behavior and sexual abuse, according to a lawsuit settlement.
The settlement in the families' lawsuit against the Morgan Hill Unified School District in Silicon Valley was finalized Wednesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
Former teacher John Arthur Loyd, 54, is serving 40 years in prison after he pleaded no contest to four felony counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child by force, violence, duress or fear.
Parents complained about Loyd's behavior to three different school principals between 2009 and 2013. Those complaints were never reported to police or entered into his personnel file, according to the lawsuit.
"The district was warned that Loyd like to hug his students. They were only girls. And when he did not get enough hugs he would bribe them with candy, telling the girls that he would give them candy only if they gave him a hug," the lawsuit said.
Four victims between ages 9 to 11 years old were molested over an 11-year period. Only three families participated in the lawsuit due to the statute of limitations on a case that occurred in 2005.
"He was basically bribing the kids for a sexual act," said Robert Allard, an attorney for the plaintiffs. "There is no evidence that the then-principal did a thing. Did not even talk to the teacher. No extra supervision. No warning. Nothing."
The school district said in a statement that it is committed to providing additional training for teachers and students.
"We are most concerned for the students who were victims of Mr. Loyd's despicable and criminal actions," the statement said. "The board of trustees and the district staff sincerely hope that the compensation in this settlement provides the students and their families the opportunity for valuable care and support in the future."
Under the settlement, each family will receive an estimated $2.75 million and the school district must train staff on identifying possible predators and providing students with a lengthy sexual abuse prevention curriculum.
"Although our training of staff and students meets all legal requirements, moving forward, the district has committed to providing additional training for staff and students," the statement said.