SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – A North County school district is facing a lawsuit after one of its students met up with a sexual predator.
The San Dieguito Union High School District was accused of failing to monitor a middle schooler’s computer activity as she struck up a relationship with an older man she met online.
Attorneys for the young girl filed the lawsuit against the school district on Wednesday.
The girl continues to struggle emotionally and is in therapy, according to her attorney who also said the district did not do enough to protect her both online and in person.
“It is outrageous what happened here. The girl was 12-years-old, a seventh grader,” said Mary Bajo, Esq., Estey & Bomberger, LLP.
According to the civil lawsuit which was filed in superior court, the seventh grader at Earl Warren Middle School in Solana Beach used the school’s computer and network to communicate with 20-year-old Jeff Calica from Oxnard.
Bajo said the girl first came into contact with Calica through a YouTube channel where he posted videos of himself styling his hair and eating ramen.
“Then, they started using G-chat on Google to correspond privately. It escalated. He cultivated the relationship – gained her trust and convinced her to meet him off-campus,” said Bajo.
The lawsuit, which lists Calica and the San Dieguito Union High School District as defendants, states the girl was “negligently allowed to use school computers” to enter online chat rooms unsupervised that enabled the 12-year-old to “enter into an online relationship” with Calica – starting in December of last year.
“She met him in his car and on at least two occasions, they had sex. This 12-year-old girl and 19 or 20-year-old man,” said Bajo.
The girl eventually told her mother, who contacted police. Calica was arrested and later pleaded guilty.
Bajo, who is representing the girl, said the school district must also be held accountable for all their students’ safety.
“If they are using a school device or the school network, the school must be responsible for what these students have access to and who has access to these students,” she said.
In a statement to News 8, the San Dieguito Union High School District said:
The District has not been served with the lawsuit. Student safety is the top priority of the San Dieguito Union High School District. Student safety includes student privacy, so out of concern for the minor involved, we can not publicly comment on the allegations at this time. Our middle school networks have advanced filtering to prevent accessing inappropriate websites. All middle school students participate in the Common Sense Digital Citizenship program to empower students to make safe, smart, and ethical decisions online.
We encourage parents to talk to their children of all ages about online safety and behavior. The District recently held a series of parent workshops focused on raising awareness on teen use of technology. It is important that parents have frank discussions with their kids, set boundaries, and monitor their use of personal devices.
Our schools are happy to help parents find more information on how to protect their children's digital reputations. Concerned parents can also go to www.commonsensemedia.org or www.cyberwise.org for more resources.
Jeff Calica has already pleaded guilty to felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor.
The website www.childmolestationvictims.com provides information for survivors and for parents about how to identify red flag behaviors, how to talk to children about sex and sex abuse, the healing effects of the legal process, and much more.