A new law recently enacted by the state of California (AB 218), which went into effect Jan. 1, 2020, extends the statute of limitations for reporting and filing claims related to the sexual abuse of minors. It affects churches, youth organizations, public schools and other entities.
Using this new law, lawyers representing three former Redlands Unified students have informed the district of their intent to file a civil lawsuit against Redlands Unified seeking financial damages for abuse by former teacher Sean Lopez that occurred in 1999. Lopez was convicted nearly 20 years ago of 60 felony counts of child abuse and is serving out his 74-year prison term. The district's sympathies go out to the victims of Lopez. His acts were despicable and we are truly sorry that these individuals have been carrying the burden of that abuse more than 20 years later.
In Redlands Unified, the safety and well-being of our students and staff continue to be a high priority. It launched the new ACT Now initiative in 2018 to encourage staff and students to come forward to report suspicious or inappropriate behavior. If they "See something, hear something or sense something," they are to alert Child Protective Services and law enforcement. The ACT Now initiative includes the adoption of a new Adult to Student policy defining appropriate boundaries, launched an awareness campaign in every classroom in every school, added school resource officers, trained staff to identify signs of grooming behavior by predators and provided detailed and enhanced campus monitoring. ACT Now is hyper-focused on prevention, awareness, early intervention as well as integrated internal reporting protocols and physical and structural safety.
We continue to encourage the entire school community to be vigilant in maintaining the safety of our students and recognize the signs of sexual abuse and harassment and report any suspicions as soon as they occur.