The law firm Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard has launched a lawsuit against the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) on grounds of alleged childhood sexual abuse. The suit claims that the school district failed to adequately supervise Harlan Edelman, a former teacher and counselor at Lowell High School.
According to the lawsuit, during the academic year 2004-2005, Edelman commenced a process of "grooming" a student, identified as John Doe, to gain his trust with the ultimate goal of sexually exploiting him. Under the pretense of assisting Doe with improving his academic performance, Edelman reportedly offered Doe rides home, meals, and gifts. Allegedly, despite this behavior, school authorities ignored Edelman's actions. The lawsuit accuses Edelman of abusing Doe on the premises of Lowell High School, including his own office and classroom.
The plaintiff, Doe, was under the impression that Edelman wielded significant influence at Lowell High School and could aid him in achieving his academic ambitions. Lowell High School holds a reputation as one of the top high schools in the nation and consistently ranks among the Top 10 Public Schools in California based on test scores.
The lawsuit states that Doe began therapy to address the effects of the abuse in late 2008, during which he disclosed the abuse for the first time.
After leaving Lowell High School, Edelman continued his teaching career at the SFUSD Academy of Arts and Sciences, remaining an employee of the San Francisco Unified School District until his resignation in September 2013.
In 2014, Edelman was apprehended in a sting operation conducted by a Mountain View police officer who posed as a 17-year-old boy on a gay website. Edelman had arranged to meet the boy for sex. He subsequently pled guilty and was convicted of intentionally distributing and/or sending harmful material featuring a minor engaging in sexual activity, with the intent of stimulating or catering to sexual desires, or with the purpose of sexual engagement. Following news reports about this event, Doe stepped forward again to recount his experiences to Mountain View police.
Edelman died in 2018. In light of the allegations, the law firm Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard is urging anyone with information about Edelman to contact them at 408-289-1417.