One Year Ago Today (July 21, 2021)…The Covina Valley Unified School District and a former student reached a settlement in her lawsuit alleging she was molested by her history teacher at Northview High School, often in his classroom, beginning more than a decade ago.
The plaintiff is identified only as Jane Doe in the lawsuit brought in March 2017. Her lawyer, Natalie Weatherford, filed papers on Monday with Pomona Superior Court Judge Peter A. Hernandez stating that the case was resolved.
Weatherford said Wednesday the terms of the settlement are confidential and not subject to approval by the CVUSD Board of Education.
“The plaintiff has suffered immensely from the abuse she experienced at the hands of her high school coach, Jason Van Duyne,” Weatherford said. “She is happy to begin to close this chapter of her life.”
The plaintiff is now 30 years old. Her suit named as defendants the district and Van Duyne, alleging sexual abuse of a minor, intentional infliction of emotional distress, sexual harassment and negligence. The settlement resolves Doe’s claims against both the district and Van Duyne, Weatherford said.
In their court papers, lawyers for the CVUSD stated there was no evidence that an administrator or supervisor at the district knew of the educator’s alleged dangerous propensities. The attorneys also maintained that the CVUSD’s obligations to Doe ended after Van Duyne left the district in 2008 and allegedly continued the relationship.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff was the teacher’s student at Northview High in Covina in the 2007-08 school year. She alleged that he began “grooming” her by giving her special attention and inviting her to spend time alone with him in his classroom, then escalated his behavior by sending her sexually explicit messages and engaging her in “adult-type conversations.”
The plaintiff’s court papers allege CVUSD administrators expressed concern to Jane Doe and the teacher about the time they were spending together, but did nothing more to investigate their relationship.
By January 2008, Van Duyne began kissing the teen and two months later was having sex with her, doing so more than 20 times in his classroom during and after school hours, the suit alleged. He was 31 years old at the time and the girl was a 16-year-old virgin, according to her court papers.
After he left the CVUSD, he continued having sex with the plaintiff, then 17, the suit alleged.
Van Duyne showed up uninvited at her prom and high school graduation in 2010, and their relationship continued after she enrolled at UC Santa Barbara, the suit alleged.
She alleged that through December 2013, Van Duyne, a married father of two children who by this time was in his mid-30s, continued to have sex with her at hotels and at his family restaurant in Whittier.
In an excerpt from her deposition, Doe testified she kept her relationship with the teacher secret because he told her that if she said anything, he would “get in a lot of trouble. And I did not want to risk that.”
Van Duyne said he could lose his daughter and his job and that people would hate the plaintiff, Doe testified.
Asked if she believed at the time that he could be arrested and lose everything, Doe replied, “I didn’t think that it was wrong at the time. I believed that I loved him and that he loved me.”
However, she realized in November 2016 that what he allegedly did to her was wrong and amounted to sexual abuse, according to her court papers.