FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) —
A sixth victim has come forward to sue Orange Center Elementary School over a molestation by the principal and this lawsuit targets the county of Fresno as well.
Lance Clement’s crimes are well known now. Several young girls accused him of improper touching and when investigators came to his house to serve a warrant in June 2014, the Orange Center Elementary principal and superintendent committed suicide.
But a new lawsuit says it all could’ve stopped two years earlier, in the fall of 2012.
“One of the teachers at Orange Center reached out to CPS to report her concerns and CPS failed to do their intake, they failed to investigate,” said Jacob Rivas, plaintiff’s attorney.
Another teacher reported Clement to CPS in 2013 and, according to the lawsuit, nothing happened again. In fact, Rivas said each teacher reported CPS employees telling them something along the lines of “you wouldn’t want to ruin a man’s reputation” by making allegations like that.
“The teachers kind of interpreted that as CPS dissuaded them or discouraging them from making any further allegations.”
Legal analyst Ralph Torres said CPS is often overwhelmed, but if those conversations really happened, there’s a big problem for CPS and Fresno County.
“It’s egregious that someone would say that and it’s not the proper thing to say. That’s intentional, not negligent at, deflecting like that.”
CPS isn’t actually responsible for investigating possible abuse inside schools. So Rivas said the teachers should have been trained to call law enforcement. But if CPS gets a report like that, they are supposed to make sure it gets passed on to law enforcement.
The county’s attorneys told us they had no comment for this story, but earlier this year, they paid more than a million dollars for mishandling reports of abuse to 10-year-old Seth Ireland back in 2008.
Ireland was later murdered by his mother’s boyfriend.
In this case, the victim is still alive, still in school, and still struggling to deal with her past.
“She’s had to live with this every day since the abuse occurred. And as you can imagine, that’s not easy for a young person to deal with and she’s had some struggles in life,” said Rivas.
Five of Clement’s victims settled lawsuits with the school district earlier this year for a total of $3.4-million.
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