A former Sunnyside High student is suing her former swim coach and Fresno Unified School District, claiming the district allowed the coach to repeatedly molest her on campus, according to a lawsuit filed in Fresno County Superior Court.
The lawsuit identifies Cameron Ward, 26, as the alleged perpetrator. He was arrested in April by the Fresno Police Department on felony charges of sexual battery, giving pornography to a minor and attempted forcible oral copulation of a minor during 2014.
Court records say Ward is free on $17,000 bail. His criminal trial is pending.
A district spokeswoman said Monday that Ward has worked for Fresno Unified since April 2013. He was been on unpaid leave since May 20 this year. “As is our professional practice, Fresno Unified does not comment on pending litigation,” spokeswoman Amy Idsvoog said.
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The lawsuit was filed by Fresno attorneys Warren Paboojian and Jason Bell on behalf of a former Sunnyside High student who is now 18 years old and identified in court papers as S.A.
Paboojian said Monday that the victim was one of Ward’s swim students. She was between 14 and 16 years old when Ward allegedly molested her on the Sunnyside High campus from 2013 through 2015, the lawsuit says.
The district, and specifically Sunnyside High School teachers, coaches, administration, knew, or should have reasonably suspected, (S.A) was a victim of child abuse.
Superior Court lawsuit
Ward was arrested while working as a librarian technician at Malloch Elementary School in northwest Fresno. Police said detectives discovered that Ward met two teenage victims during the 2013-2014 school year and assaulted one of the victims. He also sent inappropriate sexual photos to a victim, police said.
According to the lawsuit, “The district, and specifically Sunnyside High School teachers, coaches, administration, knew, or should have reasonably suspected, (S.A) was a victim of child abuse.”
Cameron Ward, who was arrested in April, is free on $17,000 bail. His criminal trial is pending
The sexual abuse occurred at the Sunnyside High campus during the school day and the molestation occurred multiple times, the lawsuit says.
School staff, coaches and students knew or should have known Ward and S.A. were in an inappropriate relationship because they spent time alone in various areas of the campus, the lawsuit says. There also was inappropriate touching and flirting and comments by Ward to S.A that occurred around staff, coaches and students. “Further, there were comments, rumors and suspicions from students and staff that S.A. and Ward were engaged in an inappropriate relationship, but failed to respond,” the lawsuit says.
Despite the warnings and observations of inappropriate conduct, Ward remained employed at Sunnyside High. “At no time did the district or school officials report to any authorities any of Ward’s indiscretions and/or suspicious behavior involving S.A. and other students,” the lawsuit says.