Teacher Accused of Sexual Abuse Allowed to Resign
A recent news report by ABC 9 KCRG in Iowa has uncovered a long history of sexual abuse allegations made against teacher Robert Ortiz. Furthermore, his employer permitted Ortiz to resign amid the allegations, rather than firing him.
An investigative report by ABC 9 revealed a long pattern of complaints against the teacher, beginning from his first days as a teacher at Linn-Mar and continuing for several years.
In 2016, two students gave a letter to Excelsior Middle School administrators describing Ortiz’s behavior as “pedophilic” and “perverted”. One of the girls reported to Marion police that Ortiz had sexually abused her several times on school grounds over the course of several years while she was a student at the middle school.
The girl’s father, Ian Gerard, told reporters that he asked the school district for more information on Ortiz, but that the district did not grant his request. He also said that attorneys from the Linn-Marr School District sent the family a letter that said their daughter’s letter was the first allegation of sexual abuse against Ortiz.
The police ultimately could not prove the claims, but an investigative file mentioned that these allegations were consistent with other allegations that Linn-Marr documented from more than 10 other students.
The Pattern of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Ortiz
The first complaint against Ortiz was made in September 2014, his first year with the school district. A district investigation determined that Ortiz was sharing “unprofessional” posts on social media, including some posts which were of a “sexual nature.” He was ordered to undergo counseling and received a written warning.
In January 2016, a similar incident from a new investigation resulted in another written warning.
In March 2016, the district issued another letter of counseling to Ortiz after six students complained that he was invading their personal space and leering at female students.
In January 2017, he was again ordered to undergo counseling after several students complained that he would regularly rub their shoulders and touch their backs. In September of the same year, additional complaints regarding his behavior online and with students in the classroom were filed.
In October 2017, Ortiz was placed on paid administrative leave after a student accused him of tapping her buttocks in the classroom. The family agreed not to press charges if Ortiz was not allowed back in the classroom.
Legal Recourse For Victims of School Sexual Abuse
Brian Kent of AbuseGuardian.com represents the victims of sexual assault and abuse. We’ve asked him to add some thoughts on how families affected by sexual abuse in schools can find justice:
Schools are supposed to be safe and enriching environments for our kids. But unfortunately, a small handful of teachers, coaches, and other school employees are sexual predators who use their positions of trust to sexually abuse students.
In some cases, this abuse only occurs because of negligence on the part of the school. For example, a school could be considered negligent if they attempted to cover up previous reports of sexual abuse by a teacher, and that teacher went on to sexually abuse additional students.
When a school’s negligence is partly to blame for the sexual abuse of a student or students, the families of the victims may have grounds for a lawsuit against the district. Taking legal action helps demand accountability from the school and may force them to better protect their students from abuse. Additionally, these lawsuits help provide victims with the financial support they need for damages like pain and suffering, therapy costs, and more.
If your child has been sexually abused by a school employee and you’re looking for answers, we advise discussing your case with an experienced sexual abuse victims lawyer.
Location of Excelsior Middle School