It seems that in recent years, stories of trusted figures abusing their authority in order to molest children have become increasingly numerous; from the Penn State scandal to more than one teacher from the Horace Mann School being accused of crossing the line with their students, parents are more aware than ever that those capable of criminal acts all too easily slip past the radar to gain entrance to the lives of young people.
In the case of L.A. teacher Forrest Stobbe–who is accused of continuous sexual abuse of a child younger than 14–those criminal acts have come into the light at the expense of at least one victim and the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has been ordered to pay the family $6.9 million in damages.
Stobbe began the abuse when the boy was just ten years old and initially befriended him and his family, becoming something of a mentor to him. The family was so appreciative of Stobbe’s attention that they asked him to be the boy’s godfather; a year later, he was arrested after the horrifying tale of his abuse came out and investigators found the boy’s DNA in a jar of petroleum jelly which was kept in his desk.
The parents of several other children say they went to the school with concerns about Stobbe’s behavior towards other students, and that the school failed to react. The principal claims she contacted the police department after a young girl complained about Stobbe touching her and that the police department told her that it was the school’s responsibility, something the LAPD vehemently denies. In the end, the school district was found liable for 30% of the total damages; the rest was attributed to Stobbe himself, but he is currently serving 16 years in prison for his acts and attorneys don’t expect him to pay.
“We take our duty to protect our students seriously and are continually looking for ways that we can strengthen our screening and reporting processes to ensure that no child is ever hurt in this way,” school district general counsel David Holmquist said. “Although we can’t change what happened in this case, we remain committed to doing everything in our power to promote healing and improve trust with those impacted.”