Los Angeles school district settles abuse suits for $22M

The Los Angeles Unified School District will pay $22 million to settle lawsuits by 16 current and former students who say they were sexually abused by two coaches, attorneys for the victims said Wednesday.

The district, the second largest in the United States behind New York City, will pay $14 million to nine girls who said they were abused by Ronnie Lee Roman, a former youth services coach at two elementary schools. The district will pay $8 million to seven boys who said they were abused by Jaime Jimenez, a former high school football coach.

Roman is serving 105 years in prison after he was convicted last June of lewd acts on a child. He was found guilty molesting girls from 8 to 12 years.

Jimenez was sentenced to more than 36 years after he pleaded no contest to sexual abuse and battery, and lewd acts on a child. His victims were between 13 and 16 years old, and one of them has since killed himself, according to Morgan Stewart, one of the attorneys representing victims.

The school district ignored complaints against Roman going back more than a decade and did nothing about Jimenez's "red flags," including secluding students in locker rooms, and spending long periods of time with them on and off campus, Stewart said

"(The district) still doesn't understand its fundamental duty to protect the children in its care, sadly," he said in a statement.

A district statement said it has made policy changes to strengthen protections for students.

"While we have made much progress, we will continue to work diligently with our parents and the community to provide the safest possible environment for our students to learn and succeed," the statement said.

A district spokeswoman declined to address allegations that administrators ignored complaints and warning signs about the coaches.

Morgan said the district also failed to investigate complaints of sexual abuse against children by three former teachers who all pleaded no contest to criminal charges and were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.