CNS – Jury deliberations continued last Friday in a case brought against Los Angeles Unified by a former high school student who alleges that school officials knew about her sexual relationship with her assistant swim coach and did not report it. Dagny B., now 20, filed the lawsuit against the LAUSD and former assistant coach David Johnson in Los Angeles Superior Court in March 2005, alleging negligence and emotional distress. Formerly of West Hills and now a resident of North Las Vegas, she alleges that Johnson enticed her into a sexual relationship between March and May 2004, when she was 15 and 16 years old and he was in his mid-30s.
She maintains that El Camino Real High School head swimming coach Steven Kalan and then-Principal Kenneth Lee suspected what was going on and should have done more to stop it. Jurors have deliberated for a 1 1/2 days without reaching a verdict. On May 15, at their request, a court reporter read back the testimony of several trial witnesses.
In his final argument Johnson’s lawyer, Drew R. Antablin, admitted his client was negligent and that the young woman was harmed by the relationship. However, just as LAUSD attorney Gary A. Bacio had argued earlier, Antablin placed most of the blame on the plaintiff’s mother, saying she also had an obligation to blow the whistle on Johnson and did not do so. Bacio said that the mother refrained from saying anything to authorities right away because she was more concerned about her then-sophomore daughter competing in the 2004 city swim finals.
Trial testimony showed Dagny’s parents found out about the relationship after their housekeeper caught the student having sex at the family home while they were away. Bacio also said school officials were unaware the teen was having a sexual relationship with Johnson until long after it was over and Johnson had quit. None of the sexual activity between the girl and Johnson took place on LAUSD property.
Testimony showed Johnson rarely went to El Camino Real High because it did not have a swimming pool. The swim team trained and held meets at Pierce College. Johnson was arrested in July 2004 and later sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years probation after pleading no contest to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He also was forbidden from coaching minors again. Johnson testified that he quit his coaching job after the relationship ended.