The San Diego Unified School District has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a parent who claims her child, a special-needs student at Riley Elementary in Clairemont Mesa, was sexually assaulted by a district bus driver in January 2012. The terms of the settlement have not been released; however, an attorney on the case has confirmed that the two sides have reached an agreement.
According to a lawsuit filed one year after the incident, district bus driver Jaime Manuel Billalon captured cell-phone images of the eight-year-old boy urinating on the bus. Billalon then refused to let the boy off the bus before allegedly touching the boy's genitalia and committing "lewd and lascivious acts" on the boy.
The mother, only identified as Elizabeth H., learned of the incident a week later. The mother submitted a formal complaint to the district. After her claim was denied, she filed a lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries and emotional distress suffered by the boy.
Reads the lawsuit, “[The boy] has suffered serious emotional distress including but not limited to suffering, anguish, fright, horror, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, shock, humiliation, and shame. [He] is awaken by nightmares at night and has trouble sleeping.... An ordinary reasonable person would have a hard time coping with this tragic experience."
In the lawsuit, attorneys for the mother say the district failed to report Billalon to the authorities.
Word of the settlement comes at a difficult time for San Diego Unified. This week details of a botched investigation of multiple student on student sexual assaults at Green Elementary School were released in a lawsuit filed by former district investigator Michael Gurrieri.
In his lawsuit, Gurrieri accused district employees and superintendent Cindy Marten of watering down his investigation in order to protect Green's principal at the time, Bruce Ferguson, who, Gurrieri found, had failed to investigate the alleged incidents and was possibly drinking on the job.
The district declined to comment on whether Billalon still works for the district and refused to release any details on the settlement agreement.