Teen Sues Jailed High School Teacher

     FRESNO, Calif. (CN) — A jailed high school teacher awaiting sentencing had a history of molesting minors before Fresno schools hired him and he had sex with a girl in his classroom several times a week for years, the student claims in court.
     Darren Klassen, a former English teacher at Fresno High School, pleaded no contest in April to five felony charges, including unlawful sex and oral copulation with a minor. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dismissed the remaining 32 felony counts. Klassen, 46, is to be sentenced on May 16.
     He was arrested on Sept. 24 last year after his student told her parents what had been going on. Her parents called the police. The student, L.P., says the classroom sex lasted from January 2013 until Klassen was arrested.
     “The sexual abuse/molestation would occur on the school campus approximately 3-5 times per week, during plaintiff’s junior and senior years, when she was 15 to 17 years of age,” L.P. says.
     She sued Fresno Unified School District and Klassen on April 29 in Superior Court.
     Before Fresno High School hired him in 2010, Klassen taught at Madera South High for more than a decade.
     A prosecutor said during a hearing that Klassen had had an inappropriate relationship with an 18-year-old student at that high school and ended up marrying her after she graduated.
     Klassen and his wife, who are being divorced, have two children together, according to court documents.
     L.P. claims that she and Klassen’s wife are not the only ones Klassen has abused, and that the school district was well aware of what Klassen was doing.
     School staff noticed Klassen and L.P. spending a lot of time alone in his classroom, knew his classroom door was locked with the lights off when they were inside, saw her sitting on his lap, and students told school staff they had seen Klassen holding her hand and kissing her, L.P says in the complaint. But administrators “turned a blind eye.”
     “This allowed an environment of no oversight or supervision that made it conducive to molest and abuse the school’s students, including plaintiff.”
     L.P. seeks punitive damages from Klassen and damages and special damages from the school district, for charges that include negligence, sexual battery and sexual harassment.
     She is represented by Jason Bell with Baradat Paboojian, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
     The school district did not respond to a request for comment.
     Klassen is being held without bail at Fresno County Jail while he awaits sentencing.

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