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San Jose, CA - Lawsuit Accuses Alum Rock Union School District of Employing "Serial Pedophile" Teacher, Israel Santiago

Published: June 20, 2024
By: Darla Medina
Last Updated on June 20, 2024

Local CA School District Accused of Failing to Protect Students from Alleged Serial Sex Abuser

A new lawsuit has been filed against the Alum Rock Union School District (ARUSD) in San Jose, California, according to KRON. The lawsuit alleges that the district knowingly placed a "serial pedophile" in three of its schools, where he allegedly sexually abused more than thirty female students.

The lawsuit centers around former music teacher Israel Santiago, 44, of Morgan Hill. Santiago was arrested by police in late 2022 on multiple counts of sexual assault against minors. The victims were all under the age of 12 and were students at Adelante Dual Language Academy, located at 2999 Ridgemont Dr, San Jose, CA 95127.

According to the lawsuit, filed on Monday, additional victims were found at two other ARUSD schools where Santiago had previously worked - William Sheppard Middle School and Ben Painter Elementary. Twelve victims have been identified, but others may be out there.

The civil suit claims that the ARUSD employed Santiago as a music teacher at the three schools despite knowing about his "sexually inappropriate behavior" in the classrooms. The lawsuit describes Santiago as a "serial pedophile" and accuses the school district of negligence.

According to the lawsuit, school district officials repeatedly warned Santiago to stop touching his female students in 2012, 2013, and 2014. However, instead of taking action, they allegedly transferred him to Adelante without informing parents.

"The bulk of the responsibility does fall on the school district. I have never seen a school district in California more culpable for passing a known pedophile around," said stated one attorney.

In 2023, Santiago was convicted of four felony counts for lewd and lascivious acts on a child, and nine counts for child molestation. He was sentenced to an 8-year prison sentence and is currently incarcerated in a prison facility in Corcoran, California. 

Michael E. Pfau
Hi, I’m attorney Mike Pfau. I’m a lawyer here in California and if you or a loved one were injured in an accident, I’d be happy to discuss your legal options. Call me on the number below. It costs nothing, and it would be my honor to help you.
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Holding School Districts Accountable for Child Sexual Abuse

In the wake of a disturbing lawsuit against the Alum Rock Union School District in San Jose, California, we sat down with experienced sex abuse lawyer Mike Pfau to discuss the legal rights of victims and how negligent school districts can be held responsible for enabling the abuse of students. Pfau, who has experience representing survivors of child sexual abuse, provided crucial insights into the challenges these victims face and the steps they can take to seek justice.

Editor Darla Medina (DM): Mr. Pfau, could you explain what legal options are available for the victims in cases like this?

Mike Pfau, Esq. (MP): Absolutely. In cases like this, where a school district is accused of knowingly allowing a teacher to sexually abuse students, the victims have the right to seek compensation through a civil lawsuit. The school district can be held liable for its negligence in failing to protect the students from harm.

DM: What types of damages can the victims pursue in a case like this?

MP: The victims can seek compensation for a range of damages, including physical and emotional trauma, psychological harm, loss of enjoyment of life, and any other consequences they've suffered as a result of the abuse. In cases where the school district is found to have been aware of the abuse but failed to take action, the victims may also be entitled to punitive damages to punish the district for its egregious actions.

DM: Can you explain how the school district could be held accountable in a case like this?

MP: School districts have a duty to protect the safety and well-being of the students in their care. If the district was aware of the teacher's inappropriate behavior and failed to take appropriate action, such as reporting the concerns to authorities or removing the teacher from the classroom, then the district can be held liable for negligence. The lawsuit alleges that the district repeatedly received complaints about the teacher's conduct but continued to shuffle him between schools, which enabled the abuse to continue.

DM: What advice would you give to victims and their families in a situation like this?

MP: My advice would be to seek the guidance of an experienced child sexual abuse attorney who can help them navigate the legal system and ensure their rights are protected. These cases can be complex, and victims need the support of professionals who understand the unique challenges they face. Most importantly, I would encourage the victims to come forward and seek justice, as holding the responsible parties accountable can be an important part of the healing process.

Seeking Justice for Survivors of School Sex Abuse

For victims and their families grappling with the aftermath of sexual abuse by a teacher, it's crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced child sexual abuse attorney. These cases can be complex, but holding the responsible parties accountable can be an important step in the healing process.

If you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual abuse by a teacher or other school employee, we encourage you to contact our law firm for a free, confidential consultation. Our team of dedicated attorneys is here to support you, protect your rights, and fight to ensure justice is served. Take the first step towards reclaiming your power and securing the compensation you deserve.



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About the Author
Darla Medina
About Darla Medina
Editor: Darla is a content writer with a focus on the legal field. She covers cases of sexual abuse, drunk driving, and preventable violent crime for the Legal Herald. Contact Darla: This article was fact checked prior to publishing by this author to ensure compliance with our rigorous editorial standards. We will only use authoritative sources. Our values compel us to provide only trustworthy information. If you find an error, please contact us.
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