Meza Faces 20 to 40 Years After Pleading Guilty to Sex Abuse
On Tuesday, October 2, a former teacher from Johnson Junior High pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a teenage student of his over a period of several years, between May 2014 and April 2017. During that time period, Joe Meza was between 31 and 34 years old, while the victim was between 14 and 17 years old. Meza was originally facing a maximum sentence of 400 years in prison for the eight counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor he was charged with. As part of the plea deal, the prosecution and the defense agreed to recommend a 20-to-40-year prison sentence.
According to the girl’s testimony, she first met Meza while he was her math teacher at Johnson Junior High. In 2014, Meza asked the girl to be his “girlfriend.” Shortly after that, he tried to persuade the girl’s mother to let him adopt her. She initially declined, but between 2014 and late 2015, the girl testified that she frequently snuck out to see Meza. In May 2016, the girl’s mother agreed to let Meza and his now-ex-wife adopt her.
Meza was placed on administrative leave at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, once these allegations came to light.
Legal Recourse For Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Teachers
When a child is sexually abused by a teacher or another school employee, it’s important to make sure that the perpetrator is prosecuted, that the child gets the help they need, and that, if applicable, the school is held liable for their negligence. Attorney commentator Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com has offered to add some more input into the legal options available to the survivors of sexual abuse by school employees:
Most of us trust that our teachers, coaches, and other school employees are honorable people who will help our kids learn and grow into responsible adults. But unfortunately, stories of school employees sexually abusing their students have become commonplace throughout the United States. When one of these trusted members of the community exploits their position of trust and sexually abuses a student, many families want answers and justice.
In some cases of student sexual abuse, the school is partly to blame for failing to keep their students safe. For example, a school district could be considered negligent for failing to report previous allegations of sexual misconduct or failing to run a background check before hiring someone with a history of sexual misconduct. When negligence is determined to have played a role in failing to stop student sexual abuse, the victim and their family may have grounds for a lawsuit against the school district.
If you believe that your child has been sexually abused, or if you are a survivor of sexual abuse, you can learn more about your family’s legal options by speaking with an experienced sexual abuse victims attorney.