Sacramento And District Share Responsibility For Negligence In Abuse Case

Sacramento and its education district have agreed to pay more than $52 million to resolve claims of negligence by school officials after a teacher’s aide admitted to molesting eight elementary school students over ten years ago. 

The settlement, reached last week, will see five of the victims receive a $40 million payout, with the city covering 60% of the amount and the district handling the rest. Additionally, a separate agreement was reached for a sixth victim, resulting in a $12.5 million settlement.

The abuser, Joshua Vasquez, who had confessed to abusing children as young at Mark Twain Elementary School, was sentenced to 150 years to life in prison back in 2016. The children molested were as young as seven. Per CBS, they call the recreational aide “Mr. Josh.”

Besides working part-time for the Sacramento City Unified School District, Vasquez also held a leadership position in the city’s START after-school program.

As part of the settlement, the city sent one-page letters to the victims, expressing sincere apologies for the suffering they endured due to Vasquez’s actions. The letter, signed by Jackie Beecham, the city’s director of youth, parks, and community enrichment, commended the victims for their bravery in coming forward with their stories. 

The city further expressed hope that the settlement would assist them in their healing process following the pain inflicted by Vasquez. “Please accept our sincere apologies for what you suffered due to Vasquez’s conduct and we hope our settlement of this matter will help you in your efforts to heal from this horrible and most regrettable experience at the hands of our former employee,” the letter read.

City spokesman Tim Swanson addressed the issue in a statement that reads, “Joshua Vasquez used his position of trust to prey on innocent children and commit sickening crimes against them. For that, he has been sentenced to life in prison.”

Since the cases were brought to light, officials have implemented several policy and procedure improvements. These include enhanced training and stricter guidelines governing staff members’ interactions with students, particularly concerning situations where an adult is alone with pupils.

However, attorney Roger Dreyer fears the damage to the children affected is already done. “These children are going to be living with what has been imprinted into their hard drive, into their brain, the mistrust of adults and the violation that they didn’t even know could happen,” he stated.