Crime

Tulare County school district settles sexual abuse lawsuit for $2.8 million

Plaintiff E.R. speaks at a press conference held outside B.F. Sisk Courthouse on Thursday morning. E.R. is one of five people suing Monson-Sultana Joint Union Elementary School District due to its employment of David Blancas, who pled guilty to sexual abuse in January 2013.
Plaintiff E.R. speaks at a press conference held outside B.F. Sisk Courthouse on Thursday morning. E.R. is one of five people suing Monson-Sultana Joint Union Elementary School District due to its employment of David Blancas, who pled guilty to sexual abuse in January 2013. Bee file photo

Monson-Sultana Joint Union School District in Tulare County has paid $2.8 million to settle lawsuits with four former students who say they were the victims of sexual abuse by former teacher David Blancas.

Blancas took photos of the students' genitals as the teens slept on overnight trips, according to the lawsuit. The photos were discovered during a police investigation that led to Blancas' arrest in 2012.

The district has already paid $4 million to settle a lawsuit with another former student.

Blancas was sentenced to 25 years to life for sexual abuse in 2013. He taught at Monson-Sultana Joint Union Elementary, the only school in the district, for 17 years.

Attorney Brian Kabateck said Blancas' sexual misconduct was first reported to the police in 1995, and that the school district knew about the reports but didn't take action.

He said in a press release that the district and its administrators had turned "a blind eye to the egregious acts of a predator who preyed on children for decades."

"These settlements provide our clients with a sense of closure and the ability to move forward with their lives and put this traumatic experience behind them," Kabateck.

The district did not return a request for comment Tuesday morning.

Aleksandra Appleton, 559-341-3747, aappleton@fresnobee.com
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