Seventh graders allege in new lawsuit they reported their teacher’s abuse to school administrators but nothing was done about it.
Former math and Spanish teacher Ethel Molina of Millbrae School District’s Taylor Middle School in California has been accused of sexually assaulting, molesting, and grooming her seventh-grade students, according to a new lawsuit filed in county Superior Court on February 1. The misconduct was reported by her victims but continued because it was allegedly ignored.
“Former math and Spanish teacher Ethel Molina repeatedly groped, touched and harassed students at Taylor Middle School during the 2013-14 school year,” the lawsuit stated. “The crimes were reported to administrators at the school, and subsequent interviews with students yielded no intervention by school staff. The school did absolutely nothing about plaintiffs’ reports of sexual abuse. Instead, they allowed Ms. Molina to remain employed at Taylor Middle School for the remainder of the school year – further victimizing and traumatizing plaintiffs and the other victims.”
In fact, the victims said they told no less than four members of the administrative staff, including the middle school’s principal, vice principal, school counselor and secretary, but Molina was not removed from her position and child welfare services was never contacted.
“Instead, they allowed (the abuse to continue as) the school told plaintiffs, ‘She was not coming back next year anyway,’” according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys Robert Thompson and Kristen Vierhaus.
The seventh-grade victims were often asked by Molina to stay behind after class for trivial reasons so she could harass and touch them inappropriately. However, some of the assaults also occurred during class. The plaintiffs and their families believe the teacher was attempting to groom them into sexual relationships.
The court documents indicated that when the students tried to report Molina, instead of forwarding their complaints to law enforcement, they were given the choice of “telling their parents or having the school make the call.” Many of the girls who were victimized chose not to discuss the incidents further. However, one of the administrators was asked by a victim, now a plaintiff, to speak with her parents. This staff member “contacted one of the plaintiffs’ parents and committed to handling the reports appropriately, but those promises were not fulfilled.”
“By failing to report the abuse to a local law enforcement agency, sheriff’s department, child welfare agency and/or the victims’ parents, defendants made a concerted effort to hide evidence and information relating to the childhood sexual assaults that occurred at Taylor Middle School,” the lawsuit stated. “Ms. Molina was very friendly with plaintiffs, all in a calculated plan to abuse them to satisfy her own sexual deviancies. Ms. Molina knew that as young twelve- or thirteen-year-old girls, like many teen girls, plaintiffs could be easily manipulated by an adult in a position of authority.”
Debbie French, superintendent, who was hired in 2020 after Linda Luna, who resigned in 2015 for a position at another district, said, “Millbrae school district is deeply committed to fostering positive learning environments, preparing our students for success and ensuring the safety, security and well-being of all students entrusted to our care. We do not tolerate any behavior that undermines those values.”
The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages for “medical and psychological treatment, as well as mental, emotional and physical anguish plus lost wages as well as other assorted expenses.”