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School sexual assault lawsuit settled

• Rio Norte student accused teacher of attacking her

Posted: June 5, 2008 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 6, 2008 5:03 a.m.

A settlement was reached this week in a lawsuit against the Hart district filed by a Rio Norte Junior High student who was seeking damages in excess of $25,000 for an alleged sexual assault by a teacher.

The student alleged that former Rio Norte teacher and track coach Scott Bell sexually assaulted her in March 2006, when she was 13 years old, according to documents filed through a guardian ad litem. Those named as defendants in the case were the William S. Hart Union High School District, Bell, Rio Norte counselor Kim Atkin and former Rio Norte Principal John Krinkel.

Bell resigned from the school in April 2006. According to the student's attorney, Robert Drescher, a complaint was filed against Bell with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and Bell's credentials were suspended for 90 days.
"At least that's what we were told," Drescher said.

A criminal investigation at the time found that the actions did not rise to a criminal level.

Drescher could not share the details of the settlement because he is bound by a confidentiality agreement, but said that part of the agreement includes an attempt to get the Hart district to implement some changes in the communication between teachers and students.

"The change would make it so that all communications between a teacher and a student using district e-mail would be carbon copied to the student's parents," Drescher said. "That way the parents always know what communication is taking place between their child and a teacher."

Among the allegations in the lawsuit were e-mails and telephone calls between Bell and the student.

"What happened to my client most likely would not have happened if the teacher had knowledge that the e-mail he was sending was also being copied to the student's parents," Drescher said.


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