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Verdicts & Settlements

$35M Verdict Against Pomona Unified School District on Behalf of Jane Doe 4

— February 2, 2024

Pomona High School is accused of rampant sexual abuse perpetrated by several male coaches in the 1990s.

LOS ANGELES – Attorneys Natalie Weatherford and John Taylor of Taylor & Ring, a California plaintiff trial law firm, obtained a $35 million verdict on behalf of Plaintiff, Jane Doe 4, against Pomona Unified School District (PUSD). Jane Doe 4 was raped by Herman Hopson, her former track coach at Pomona High School (PHS), when she was just 16 years old while on an overnight track trip. It is alleged that Hopson sexually assaulted at least four other minor, female PHS students.

“PHS had a prolific problem with childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by its adult, male coaching staff in the 1990s and early 2000s, and Jane Doe 4 is one of nine women who have come forward to report abuse. PHS administrators, coaches and staff repeatedly and inexplicably turned a blind eye to this abuse for decades, destroying the lives of many young women, including our client,” said attorney Natalie Weatherford. “Today’s verdict is a huge victory, not only for Jane Doe 4, but for all the women who are currently waiting to fight their fight.”

“Administrators and personnel were aware of the grooming and sexually abusive behavior of multiple coaches, including Herman Hopson. Former Pomona High students testified that the abuse was so rampant that ‘everyone on the campus knew’ that girls were being taken advantage of by coaches, yet nothing was done,” commented attorney John Taylor. “We’re hopeful this verdict is a step in the right direction and that the perpetrators will finally be held accountable.”

Deposition testimony from former PHS students, parents, and employees, described the widespread, open, and obvious abuse of minor girls at PHS by the adult male PHS coaches, including but not limited to: the assistant track and assistant football coach Defendant Herman Hopson, the girls’ basketball coach Brian Crichlow, the head track coach Kitrick Taylor, the football coach Derick Pugh, and the assistant football coach Vincent Spirlin. Vincent Spirlin remains employed by Pomona Unified School District today.

Case Background

Jane Doe 4 was 14 years old when she entered the 9th grade for the 1994-1995 school year at PHS, where she met Herman Hopson through her participation in the track program. On a PHS track trip in Spring 1996, Jane Doe 4, 16 years old, was raped by Hopson. Jane Doe 4 reported the assault to PHS principal Gloria Russo who told Jane Doe 4 that she would “take care of it” and ordered her to “speak to no one about this.”

Immediately following her report, Jane Doe 4 was subjected to physical and verbal harassment and bullying by coach Kitrick Taylor and a PHS student (at Taylor’s direction). The bullying became so severe that she was forced to leave PHS at the end of her 11th grade year.

Image via Riala/Pixabay. (CCA-BY-0.0)

In addition to the rampant sexual abuse, these coaches and other adult male members of the PHS athletic staff, openly sexually harassed and objectified female PHS students. The coaches provided alcohol and drugs to the minor girls on the campus and abused the girls in the school locker room, gym, the coaches’ office and on a yearly school sponsored track and field trip that the coaches would chaperone.

Taylor & Ring represents other plaintiffs in this matter : Jane Doe 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Two plaintiffs have settled for an undisclosed amount: Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2.

Taylor & Ring, an award-winning Los Angeles-based trial law firm, represents plaintiffs across California in high-impact civil rights, personal injury, wrongful death, and sexual assault, abuse and harassment matters.

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