A civil trial begins today (January 30) in a molestation case of a special-needs student who was allegedly assaulted by three older students inside a bathroom at Green Elementary School in San Carlos. The lawsuit alleges that the school's principal, Bruce Ferguson, failed to report the incident to the district.
The mother of a then-seven-year-old girl, Latoya (last name withheld), sued the San Diego Unified School District and Ferguson in September 2015. The complaint alleges that in May 2015, while in a stall inside the girls' bathroom, Latoya's daughter was approached by three older girls. The girls, according to a report by the San Diego Union-Tribune, took turns fondling the younger girl's genitals. In a separate incident, nearly one year later, a different student slid underneath the stall to watch the girl use the restroom. The mother met with Ferguson to report the incidents. She says that the principal did nothing in response.
In 2013, another assault occurred in the boys' bathroom at Green Elementary when a kindergarten boy allegedly forced oral copulation on a classmate. Shortly after the incident, the district launched an investigation. The investigator, Michael Gurrieri, who looked into the matter found that the principal had failed to report similar incidents, reportedly discovered evidence that the principal, Ferguson, was known to drink on the job and was experiencing personal problems.
Gurrieri submitted a 32-page report on the incidents. But district officials, including superintendent Cindy Marten, asked that he edit the report by omitting previous incidents of sexual abuse and any allegations that Ferguson consumed alcohol during school hours. Gurrieri objected and was later fired. In September 2015, Gurrieri sued the district for wrongful termination.
It was later revealed that after the alleged incidents, district officials transferred Ferguson from his position as principal and moved him to San Diego Unified's Office of Language Acquisition. During a deposition in Gurrieri's case, superintendent Marten testified that she was not aware of the assaults or of any allegations that Ferguson was drinking on the job. Marten, however, did admit to being aware of district lead counsel Andra Donovan's decision not to classify the forced oral copulation as sexual harassment. The decision prevented having to report the incident to state officials and authorities.
Gurrieri's case is heading to trial. Opening remarks in the special-needs girl's trial are expected to take place in judge Joan Lewis's department.