A longtime teacher with Bridgeton Public Schools has been arrested and charged with allegedly sexually assaulting two students more than a decade ago. The teacher has also been accused of recently attempting to bribe one of the victims into not contacting police about the alleged crimes.
50-year-old Isaias Garza allegedly forced two students from the ExCEL program to perform sex acts on him at one of the district’s school buildings and at their homes, according to authorities. These sexual assaults allegedly occurred several times between 2004 and 2008.
According to the charges, both victims were less than 13 years old. Authorities have not disclosed the genders of the victims. One of the charges also alludes to another assault on one of the victims when that student was between 13 and 16 years old.
Prosecutors have alleged that Garza contacted one of the now-adult victims several times and asked them not to speak to police about the sexual assaults, offering money for the victim to keep quiet. The victim shared a recording of one of those conversations with the police, the affidavit says.
Garza has been charged with multiple counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault and second-degree sexual assault, along with one count of second-degree official misconduct and one count of witness tampering.
Attorney contributor and school sexual abuse lawyer Brian Kent, helps the survivors of sexual assault come forward, tell their stories, and fight for justice. We have asked him to discuss the legal options available to survivors of child sexual abuse by school employees:
Because of the traumatic nature of sexual assault and the fact that many perpetrators are in positions of trust and power, it’s normal for survivors to hesitate about coming forward. But we want these survivors to know that it’s never too late to speak out against your abuser and begin fighting for justice. Adults who have been sexually abused as children have legal rights in both criminal justice and civil court systems.
Some cases of child sexual abuse committed by school staff involve negligence on the part of the school district. Examples of such negligence may include failure to discipline or fire an employee with previous complaints of sexual misconduct or hiring a new employee without first conducting a background check. When negligence played a role in failing to keep students safe from sexual abuse, the survivors and their families may have grounds for a lawsuit against the school district.
If you or your child has been sexually abused by a school employee, you can learn more about your family’s legal options by speaking to an experienced sex abuse survivors lawyer.