(CN) – Four first-graders who claim they were molested by a substitute teacher cannot sue his previous employers for failing to report suspected child abuse, a California appeals court ruled.
The four children sued under the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, alleging negligence and infliction of emotional distress. In addition to suing teacher Eric Norman Olsen and the Rancho Cucamonga Central School District, they also sued the Chino, San Bernardino and Ontario-Montclair districts, which previously employed Olsen.
The plaintiffs claimed that the districts failed to report suspected incidents in the past that involved similar allegations.
The trial court ruled that because the children were not under the districts’ care when the alleged molestation occurred, the districts had no duty toward the plaintiffs under the Act.
Affirming the ruling, the 4th Appellate District Court of Appeal quoted the California Supreme Court’s 1997 decision in Randi W. v. Muroc Joint Unified School District:
“The Reporting Act was intended to protect only those children in the custodial care of the person charged with reporting the abuse, and not all children who may at some future time be abused by the same offender.”