COLTON, CALIFORNIA (October 4, 2022) – A former Colton High School football trainer identified as Tiffany Strauss Gordon has been accused of sexually abusing 6 players during her time with the school.
The revelation comes following a lawsuit against the school district. According to the lawsuit, the sexual abuse took place everywhere within Colton High School.
This includes locker rooms, training rooms, weight rooms, bathroom and several homes. The abuse is alleged to have taken place decades ago.
Victims of the abuse claim that the deceased head coach Harold Strauss and other staff were aware of red flags pointing to sexual abuse. It is alleged that coaches even made jokes about Tiffany Strauss Gordon’s behavior.
A full investigation into the incidents remains ongoing at this time. It remains unclear if any criminal charges for the conduct are forthcoming.
Liability For Sexual Assaults At Colton High School
Sexual abuse in high schools are far more common than many people understand. According to the National Education Association (NEA), there were around 14,937 reported instances of sexual violence in K-12 schools in the 2017 – 2018 school year. This is up over 50% from the reported 9,649 instances of abuse reported for the 2015 – 2016 school year. The Children’s Center has reported that sexual abuse by teachers is also on the rise. For children in 8th through 11th grade, it has been estimated that nearly 7% were victims of physical sexual assault from an adult – typically a coach or teacher. There are a number of signs that parents should look for that could point to sexual abuse.
- Children may have repeated nightmares or sleep problems.
- Children may refuse to eat or have a sudden loss of appetite.
- Children may refrain from being hugged or touched.
- Children may have sudden mood swings or withdrawal.
It is illegal for teachers or coaches to engage in sexual conduct with students. Minors are not able to consent to sexual activity. It is also illegal for a teacher, coach or other mandated reporter to fail to report inappropriate sexual conduct with a minor. Pursuant to California Penal Code 11166(c), a mandated reporter who fails to report any incident or reasonably suspected child abuse or neglect is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be sentenced to up to six months in a county jail. Unfortunately, it is common for teachers to fail to report abuse out of fear of retribution.
In addition to criminal sanctions against a sexual abuser or someone who fails to report the abuse, a school could be liable for any incident when a coach or teacher abuses a student. Courts in California have long held that school officials must constantly monitor the children entrusted to them. As outlined in Taylor v. Oakland Scavenger Co., 17 Cal. 2d 594 [110 P.2d 1044], “It is the duty of the school authorities to supervise at all times the conduct of the children on the school grounds and to enforce those rules and regulations necessary to their protection.” When a school fails to adequately supervise children who are then the victims of sexual abuse, this could form the basis of a negligence claim. There are actually a number of steps that schools can take in order to prevent instances of sexual abuse.
- Schools should properly vet teachers, coaches and other staff.
- Instances of suspected sexual abuse should be properly reported.
- Sexual abuse prevention programs should be well funded.
- Preventing the sexual abuse of students should be included in the Department’s School Safety Commission.
Any student that is sexually abused by a school teacher or coach may have legal recourse through a civil claim. Damages can help cover many of the expenses that can come with sexual assault. The sexual abuse of students is no small matter. Students that are sexually abused are more likely to experience long-term negative health outcomes. Sadly, school districts will often fight extremely hard to deny liability for any student that is abused by a teacher or coach. A sexual abuse attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating Sexual Assaults At Colton High School
We at the Carrillo Law Firm, LLP extend our best wishes and sympathies to all of the people who may have been victims of Tiffany Strauss Gordon. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what happened. Any person that may have more information should reach out to police. It is our sincere hope that school district officials will implement measures to protect other students.
Have you or someone that you care about been sexually abused during your time at Colton High School? There are a number of laws designed to protect your rights. Our team of sexual abuse attorneys are here to help in any way that we can. We care deeply that abuse victims are aware of their rights and that those rights are being protected.