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San Jose, CA – A new lawsuit has been filed on behalf of students, accusing the Alum Rock Union School District of placing a “serial pedophile” in three San Jose schools, where he allegedly abused more than thirty female students.

Former San Jose Music Teacher Accused of Sexual Assault

Former music teacher Israel Santiago, 44, of Morgan Hill, was arrested by police in late 2022 for multiple counts of sexual assault against minors. The victims were less than 12 years old and students at Adelante Dual Language Academy, located at 2999 Ridgemont Dr, San Jose, CA 95127.

Additional School Sex Abuse Victims Found at Previous Schools

On Monday, attorneys said additional victims were found at William Sheppard Middle School and Ben Painter Elementary, where Santiago worked before being transferred to Adelante. Twelve victims have now come forward, but more are feared to follow.

Civil Suit Claims School District Knew of Sexual Misconduct

The civil suit filed in Santa Clara County court claims the school district employed Santiago as a music teacher at the three schools despite knowing of his “sexually inappropriate behavior” inside classrooms. The lawsuit describes Santiago as a “serial pedophile.” Alum Rock Union School District, Santiago, and several school officials are named as defendants.

Eleven students are plaintiffs in the suit, and their attorneys are accusing ARUSD of negligence.

Attorneys Allege School District “Passed the Trash” As More Victims Surface

According to the lawsuit, Santiago worked at two ARUSD schools, William Sheppard Middle School and Ben Painter Elementary, between 2012-2014. School district officials repeatedly warned the music teacher to stop touching his female students in 2012, 2013, and 2014, according to the report.

Following complaints of sexual behavior with minor females, ARUSD transferred Santiago to Adelante without informing parents, attorneys said. The lawsuit states, “Within ARUSD, Santiago was known to act sexually inappropriate, effecting a desire to groom and determine who was vulnerable to his advances.”

The attorney stated, “The bulk of the responsibility does fall on the school district. I have never seen a school district in California more culpable for passing a known pedophile around.”

Failure to Report Concerns of Sexual Abuse to Authorities

The district’s decision to leave the music teacher in classrooms with minors gave him the means to sexually abuse and assault minor girls on a continuing and ongoing basis, the suit claims. Attorneys said district officials failed to report concerns surrounding Santiago to police and CPS.

Santiago’s Conviction and Sentencing After Arrest

San Jose Police Department officers arrested Santiago in November of 2022 on suspicion of child molestation. In 2023, he was convicted of four felony counts for lewd and lascivious acts on a child and nine counts for child molestation. A Santa Clara County judge sentenced Santiago to an 8-year prison sentence.

Prison inmate records show Santiago has been incarcerated in a prison facility in Corcoran, Calif., since December of 2023. His first parole eligibility hearing is slated for June of 2028, state records show.

Sex Abuse Lawyer Explains Rights for Victims, Holding Schools Accountable

In an interview with experienced California sex abuse lawyer Mike Pfau, we learned more about the legal avenues available when a teacher sexually abuses students. Pfau outlined how victims can pursue civil lawsuits against perpetrators and negligent school districts, as well as the types of damages that may be recovered. The conversation provided a comprehensive overview of the rights and options for those impacted by educator sexual misconduct.

Laurence Banville, Esq.: What recourse do victims have when sexually abused by a teacher?

Mike Pfau, Esq.: Students who are sexually abused by a teacher can file a civil lawsuit against the teacher, the school district that employed them, and any administrators who failed to protect the students from the abuse. Both the perpetrator and the negligent third parties can be held liable.

Banville: How can school districts be held accountable?

Pfau: If the school district knew or should have known about inappropriate behavior by the teacher but failed to take action, they can be considered negligent. Evidence that they ignored complaints or ‘passed the trash’ by transferring a predator teacher would demonstrate negligence.

Banville: What damages can victims pursue?

Pfau: Victims can seek compensation for emotional distress, psychological counseling, lost earnings potential, and other damages. In egregious cases with a clear cover-up, punitive damages against the district are also possible.

Seek Justice: Contact Our Firm for a Free Consultation

Victims of sexual abuse by teachers and their families should not have to suffer in silence. If you or a loved one experienced such traumatic violations of trust, it is imperative to understand your legal rights. Our experienced team is here to guide you through the process of holding abusers and negligent institutions accountable. We encourage anyone impacted to contact our firm for a confidential, free consultation. Together, we can pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.


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