Former Jefferson High student alleges abuse by teacher from 2016-19

Los Angeles Unified is being sued by a former Jefferson High School student who alleges he was sexually abused on campus by a teacher from 2016-19.

The plaintiff, identified only as John H.G. Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court suit brought Friday, claims the abuse occurred in the classroom and elsewhere on campus and alleges negligence, sexual assault, sexual battery and false imprisonment. The former teacher, Malik Pedael Guzman, is also named as a defendant.

Doe, now 19, seeks unspecified compensatory damages against the defendants, plus punitive damages against Guzman.

An LAUSD representative issued a statement Tuesday regarding the lawsuit.

"We do not comment on pending litigation; however, the safety and well-being of our students remains our top priority," the statement said.

LAUSD staff members told Doe and his family that Guzman was a highly qualified teacher, counselor and mentor who could assist the plaintiff in his personal and scholastic issues, the suit states.

"Inherent in these representations was the understanding that Guzman was selected to educate, lead, guide, mentor and counsel plaintiff and other minor students," the suit states. "Plaintiff and his family reasonably believed that Guzman was worthy of their trust."

Guzman taught, counseled and advised Doe and other students in academics as well as general psychological and personal issues that may affect high school students, the suit states.

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But there were multiple "red flags" about Guzman's behavior that should have alerted the school administration, the suit states. He frequently kept Doe in his classroom alone during lunch with the door locked and the windows covered, and he also gave Doe rides to and from school, according to the suit. Guzman molested Doe in the teacher's classroom and in another location on campus called the copy room from September 2016 through June 2019, the suit alleges.

The alleged sexual contact occurred on "countless occasions" from 2016-19, the suit states. Guzman also gave Doe money, food and gifts, and if the administration had adequately supervised the teacher, the alleged sexual abuse of the plaintiff could have been prevented or minimized, the suit alleges.

Prior to being allegedly molested by Guzman, Doe experienced psychological problems, the suit states. He also had regular sleeplessness, depression and anxiety and has a hard time interacting with others, the suit states.

Guzman was arrested in May 2020, and in May of this year, pleaded no contest to lewd or lascivious act with a minor and was sentenced to two years in prison and two years of probation, the suit states. The California Commission on Teaching Credentialing revoked his teaching credential, according to the suit.

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