Sexual abuse victim was in second grade when she was sexually abused starting in 2006
The law firm of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard has filed a sexual abuse lawsuit in Butte County Superior Court alleging the Thermalito Union Elementary School District was negligent for failing to protect an eight-year-old second grade student.
The student is identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit. She was abused between 2006-2009 at Poplar Avenue Elementary School in Thermalito, which is near Oroville.
Her abuser, paraeducator You Lee Vang, was found guilty in 2015 of sexually molesting four children, including Jane Doe. He is serving 24 years in state prison.
The lawsuit claims that Doe's sexual abuse could have been prevented if the school had properly supervised Vang.
The lawsuit also alleges the school enabled Vang's predatory behavior by allowing him to take Jane Doe out of her regular classroom and into his, where he would close the door and sexually abuse her behind a privacy screen.
Vang was an ESL educator who provided English training to Hmong students but Jane Doe was an English-speaking student. “She should never have been allowed to be alone with him,” Attorney Lauren Cerri said.
The lawsuit says, too, that school personnel should have been trained on red flag grooming behaviors that would have helped school officials detect and report Vang.
"Schools have a legal obligation to act as the parent when their child is dropped off at school," Cerri said. "That includes doing what a parent would do to protect their child from sexual abuse, including alerting authorities of a report from another student that Vang had touched her in a way that made her uncomfortable."
The harm caused to Jane Doe by the abuse continues and will be lifelong.
In the criminal trial, the Judge stated, "the effect child molestation has on victims is overwhelming and underestimated by adults." Doe told the court that she often asks herself “what I could have been like if this had never happened to me. Maybe I could have turned out to be the girl I’d hoped to be..."
She added that she is “sad, lonely and struggling with life.”
In 2013, Jane Doe tried to sue the school district but because of the law, her claim was rejected. The law at the time required Doe and all educator sexual abuse victims to provide school districts notice that they were going to file a lawsuit within six months of the date they were abused.
“That was an unjust law that California school districts used to evade legal responsibility," Cerri said. “Fortunately, the law was changed in 2020, doing away with the claim requirement and allowing victims, no matter when they were abused, three years to bring a lawsuit.”
The three years expires Dec. 31, 2022.
"Our legal team is using the new law to make sure sexual abuse victims are fairly compensated, and to hold perpetrators and their enablers accountable," Cerri said.
Attorneys for Jane Doe are seeking help from those with information on the case. Please contact the law firm at 408-289-1417.
About Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard
The sexual abuse legal team at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard has a national reputation and proven record of helping survivors and their families recover from childhood sexual abuse. The firm’s $65 million jury verdict in a sexual abuse case against a public school is believed to be the largest single plaintiff verdict ever in California and the U.S. In May 2022, the law firm obtained a $10 million jury verdict for the 2003 sexual abuse of a then-high school tennis player abused by his coach. And earlier this year, the firm secured $7.5 million for five men sexually abused by their teacher in the late 1970's and early 1980's.