Students who were sexually abused by a former Sun Valley high school wrestling coach will receive a $52 million settlement in a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In October 2019, Terry Gillard, 56, was sentenced to 71 years in prison for sexually assaulting 14 young students.
Between 1991 and 2017, Gillard abused young athletes he met while coaching at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley and at the Boys and Girls Club of San Fernando, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The victims were boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 17.
The lawsuit also alleges that LAUSD officials were aware of the abuse allegations, but failed to take the proper measures to investigate properly.
According to attorneys, an LAUSD investigator believed Gillard was lying about a previous 2016 sexual misconduct incident, but “was not permitted to relay that information to administrators who were deciding whether to permit Gillard to return to John H. Francis Polytechnic High School.”
Gillard was eventually allowed back onto campus where he continued sexually abusing students, the lawsuit states.
“LAUSD has a long and sad history of covering up child abuse by teachers and coaches,” said the attorneys representing the victims. “We now know that the mechanism created by LAUSD to investigate these crimes is a sham.”
Gillard was convicted on 37 felony and 10 misdemeanor counts, including lewd acts on children under the age of 16, oral copulation with a minor, procuring children to engage in lewd acts, and child molestation. He faces a possible sentence of 71 years in prison.
“The size of this settlement highlights the tremendous harm done to our clients by Terry Gillard and the abject failure of LAUSD to protect the students at Francis Polytechnic High School from this truly deranged predator,” the attorneys said. “Our lawsuit also exposed LAUSD’s Student Safety Investigation Team (SSIT) as a fraud and a public relations gimmick.”