Woman Says School Gave Molester a Pass
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) - A public school district gave a clean letter of recommendation to a teacher who molested a student, so she would go away quietly, allowing her to sexually abuse a student at another school, the first alleged victim claims in court.
Jamie C., now 28, sued Doe No. 1, a public school district, and Doe No. 2, an individual, on Aug. 14 in Superior Court.
The 22-page lawsuit does not identify Doe 1 or 2, but their identities are obvious, from news reports on the case, and because Jamie C. says in the lawsuit that the teacher molested her at Chemawa Middle School, which is in the Riverside Unified School District.
In February this year, Andrea Michelle Cardosa was charged with 16 counts of child abuse, in Riverside County Court. She pleaded not guilty in May.
Cardosa is referred to in the lawsuit as Doe No. 2. The Riverside Unified School District is Doe No. 1.
Cardosa was arrested after Jamie C. posted a 9-minute video on YouTube, headlined: "A call to my childhood rapist teacher."
In the video, which has been viewed about 1.5 million times, Jamie directly accuses Cardosa of sexually molesting her, and Cardosa appears to acknowledge it, saying, "I regret it every day."
Jamie was 12 when Cardosa molested her, she says on the video. She adds: "The abuse went on for years."
According to the lawsuit, Doe No. 2 was her basketball coach at Chemawa Middle School in Riverside in the late 1990s.
Jamie claims in the complaint that the coach had a pattern of taking advantage of certain girls by gaining their trust and friendship "so that she could then convince and persuade them to go along with sexual acts without telling anyone."
Jamie claims that Cardosa would write romantic letters to girls, drive them home from school, take them to the mall, give them gifts, and have them sleep over at her house.
Jamie says Cardosa sexually assaulted her for the first time in the girl's locker room after a basketball practice. The sexual abuse, which included digital penetration and oral copulation, continued from that point and happened at the school, in the car, and at Cardosa's home, according to the complaint.
Certain coaches, teachers and administrators at Chemawa knew that Cardosa was engaging in sexual misconduct with her adolescent student athletes, and were legally required to report the suspected child abuse, but intentionally chose not to do so, Jamie says in the complaint.
During the 1998-1999 school year, the complaint states, a parent complained to the district about the relationship Cardosa was having with certain girls at the school, including Jamie. Around the same time, a coach at Chemawa discovered a romantic note that Cardosa had written to a student, according to the complaint.
Administrators interviewed some of the girls, including Jamie, but Jamie says Cardosa had threatened her that she would retaliate if Jamie reported the abuse.
Jamie says she downplayed Cardosa's conduct, but did tell the interviewers that Cardosa had kissed her.
The district decided to end Cardosa's employment as a result of the investigation. Cardosa told Jamie later that "she had received a letter of recommendation from the school" as part of a deal that required her to leave "without a fight," the complaint states.
Cardosa landed a teaching job at another school district and continued to work as a teacher and coach in schools for years to come, eventually becoming an administrator, the complaint states.
Cardosa sexually abused at least one other girl at one of the schools where she taught, for which she was criminally charged, according to the complaint and to news reports on the case.
Jamie claims in the lawsuit that Cardosa continued to abuse her throughout her teenage years, even after she left Chemawa, by manipulating her into believing their relationship was "normal" and "okay."
Now an adult, Jamie realized the psychological harm that the childhood abuse had done, so she decided to confront the woman, which she did on the YouTube video.
She also wanted to make sure that Cardosa "was not employed in the field of education that would allow her to be working with children," the complaint states.
Jamie learned that Cardosa was working as an administrator at Alhambra High School in the Alhambra Unified School District. She called her there, and recorded the video .
In the video, Jamie tells Cardosa that she should be ashamed and disgusted with herself, and the woman replies, "I am, I am." The woman also says, "I regret it every day."
Jamie forwarded the YouTube link to the principal of Alhambra High School, so that the school would "know that it had an administrator working for the district who was a child molester," the complaint states.
After viewing the video, the principal alerted police, who interviewed Cardosa the same day. Cardosa allegedly admitted that she had molested Jamie when Jamie was in middle school. She resigned from her job that same day, according to the complaint.
The second alleged victim, now 18, filed a complaint against the Val Verde Unified School District in Perris, Calif., in connection with her alleged abuse at the hands of Cardosa.
Jamie seeks punitive damages for childhood sexual abuse, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, supervision and retention, failure to report suspected child abuse, and negligence.
She is represented by David Ring with Taylor & Ring.