PSR Investigating Claims of Sexual Abuse by Glendale Unified School District Employee

Posted on March 16, 2024

Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP is investigating claims against a former employee of the Glendale Unified School District who has been accused of sexually abusing at least six elementary school-aged boys while working as a special education teacher’s aide at John Muir Elementary School in  in Glendale, California.

On October 3, 2023, Pedro Antonio Tellez (aka Pedro Antonio Hernandez Llamas), a 29-year-old male, was arrested for committing lewd acts against minors after the parents of two victims separately reported that Tellez had sexually assaulted their children at John Muir Elementary School.

Tellez pleaded not guilty to eight felony counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14 years. Investigators allege that Tellez touched the boys inappropriately and with sexual intent while he was working at various schools in the Glendale Unified School District between 2018 and 2023, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Since his initial charging, six additional charges have been brought against Tellez alleging thirteen counts of lewd acts against children under the age of 14 and one charge of continuous sexual abuse of a minor.

Glendale Unified School District employed Tellez as a teacher’s aide for special education students and as an after-school coach for football and other sports. Additionally, Tellez was an employee of the city of Glendale’s after-school program and summer day camp. In all of these positions, Tellez may have had unfettered access to minor children.

Investigators believe there may be more victims, dating back five or more years, who have yet to come forward.

Liability for Glendale Unified School District Sexual Abuse

Regrettably, instances of sexual abuse within educational institutions are not uncommon. Data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights shows that there were 14,938 sexual violence incidents in K-12 schools during the 2017-2018 school year, a 55% increase from the incidents recorded in 2015. An estimated 1 in 10 students will experience school employee sexual misconduct by the time they graduate high school. Further, the number of incidents of sexual abuse is often underreported because survivors may be afraid or ashamed to tell adults.

Children are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse committed by school personnel. Perpetrators are often teachers, coaches, and other staff members who exploit their position of trust with children and their parents to carry out sexual abuse. Students who are the victims of sexual abuse may not believe it to be as severe as it is and often do not understand the influential behavior a teacher or other faculty member may have on them.

School districts have a duty to protect students from harm, including sexual abuse. Failure to fulfill this duty can result in significant physical, emotional, and psychological harm to the victims. It’s imperative to address this issue seriously and understand the legal principles surrounding school district liability for the sexual abuse of students.

Although many school districts have policies and procedures to prevent abuse, they fail to enforce them consistently and effectively. Shockingly, in some cases, school districts even try to cover up allegations of abuse rather than reporting them to law enforcement. In some instances, before the abuse is reported, a teacher-offender can transfer to another district and move on to other victims. On average, a teacher-offender will pass through three different districts before being stopped, and one offender can have as many as 73 victims in his or her lifetime.

Examples of situations where a school district may be held liable for sexual abuse of students include:

  1. Failure to conduct proper background checks on employees, which could have revealed a history of sexual misconduct.
  2. Ignoring reports or complaints of sexual abuse made by students, parents, or other staff members.
  3. Negligent supervision of students, allowing opportunities for abuse to occur.
  4. Disregarding “red flags” indicating potential abuse, such as inappropriate behavior between staff members and students or changes in a student’s behavior or demeanor.

When school districts fail to take appropriate action to prevent or address sexual abuse, they can be held accountable for the harm suffered by the victims. Survivors of sexual abuse within school districts have legal options available to seek justice and compensation for their injuries.

In California, for instance, survivors of sexual abuse have legal recourse against school districts for the failure of school leaders to protect them. A sexual abuse attorney can assess the specific circumstances of a survivor’s case and help determine the available legal options for pursuing justice.

It is crucial for school districts to prioritize the safety and well-being of their students and to implement transparent and effective policies and procedures to prevent sexual abuse. By holding school districts accountable for instances of sexual abuse, we can strive to create safer educational environments where students can learn and thrive without fear of exploitation or harm.

Investigating Glendale Unified School District Sexual Abuse

We at Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP extend our condolences to the individuals and their families impacted by Pedro Antonio Tellez. We sincerely hope there is a thorough investigation into the allegations and that all of Tellez’s survivors obtain justice.

Are you or a loved one a survivor of sexual abuse that occurred at Glendale Unified School District? The pain and trauma of sexual abuse can be overwhelming, but you do not have to face it alone.

Our team of dedicated sexual abuse attorneys is here to serve you. We have spent decades fighting for survivors and have achieved some of the highest verdicts and settlements for sexual abuse in California history.

Whether you are considering hiring an attorney or have questions, please call us anytime at (310) 477-1700.

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If you have a legal matter you would like to discuss with an attorney from our firm, please call us at (310) 477-1700 or complete and submit the e-mail form below, and we will get back to you.

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