Palmdale High School Coach Convicted in Sexual Abuse of Student Did Not Pass Background Check: Lawyers
A man convicted in the sexual abuse of a student while he was working as a basketball coach at Palmdale High School was hired despite his failure to pass a background check, the teenager’s lawyers announced Monday.
Marcus Williams was sentenced to five years in state prison after being convicted of seven felony counts in connection with sexually abusing a 14-year-old student, according to the victim’s lawyer. Williams was 38 at the time, the victim said.
The abuse began with explicit text messages before the relationship became sexual in December 2015, the victim, who’s now an adult, previously told KTLA. She said she became pregnant at 15 and now has a 2-year-old child.
Her lawyers announced in December that their client was suing the Antelope Valley Union High School, alleging that the district knew of previous accusations from students against Williams before hiring him.
Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, the law firm representing the victim, released further details about what school officials allegedly knew about the former coach before employing him.
The law firm said the assistant superintendent for the district has testified under oath that Williams was initially rejected for employment due to a prior criminal conviction for burglary in Texas. This should have automatically disqualified Williams for employment within the district, Assistant Superintendent Brett Neal said in court, according to Manly, Stewart & Finaldi.
“Marcus Williams, however, falsified a statement regarding his prior convictions, and the District, in violation of their own policy, hired him,” the law firm said in a statement. “The District further failed to verify the information of this prior conviction, accepting the word of Williams, despite his being a convicted criminal.”
Williams also admitted that it was clear that the school district “should not have hired me as a coach to work with female students,” Manly, Stewart & Finaldi said.
In a December interview with KTLA, the victim accused teachers and her fellow student athletes of harassing her about her relationship with Williams.
“After that had happened to me, I was feeling suicidal,” she said.
On Monday, her lawyers called for a criminal investigation into the Antelope Valley Union High School District, asserting that an intervention by state education officials “will be the only route to meaningful change that prevents future victims of sexual assault within the school district.”
District officials said they could not comment on the case amid the ongoing litigation.