Guardians of the Most Vulnerable

Attorneys representing families in the Miramonte School sex scandal call for swift and coordinated assistance to victims, written assurances by Sheriff Baca that undocumented victims will not be deported through Secure Communities program, and a culture of collective vigilance to prevent these crimes from happening again

Los Angeles – Just a couple of days before a completely different set of teachers and administrators was to begin a new chapter at Miramonte Elementary School, the first lawsuits were filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of eight children and their families who were victimized by the sex scandal that has attracted international attention.

The laws firms of Owen, Patterson & Owen and The Law Office of Jessica Dominguez, with support from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), a human rights organization based in Los Angeles, announced this Thursday their intent to seek protections and assistance for the most vulnerable in this case of despicable violations of sacred trust and responsibility.

The most salient concern for these advocate attorneys and CHIRLA is the children who were victimized by the inability of the LAUSD staff to appropriately protect them from harm and their families, many who are immigrants and fearful of immigration retaliation.  The following are statements from Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive Director; Jessica Dominguez, immigration attorney; and, Gregory James Owen, attorney at Owen, Patterson & Owen.

Angelica Salas:  “We are all touched and moved by what has taken place at Miramonte School.  We pray for the families and the children who have been directly affected.  Nothing is more despicable than violating a child’s trust and in this case it appears that some adults and the institution may not have given a damn about protecting the sacred bond between a school, a teacher, and a child, family, and community.

We join today two brilliant and honest lawyers who will tend to the legal rights of these children and their families.  We also call on Sheriff Baca to immediately offer in writing guarantees that his department will not take any action against any of the parents or children who seek support and may also be unauthorized immigrants.  The Sheriff’s enthusiastic support of the so-called “Secure Communities” program is troubling and may hinder progress in this investigation unless he goes to extreme measures to inform the community they have nothing to fear.  Our collective efforts must be predicated on keeping our children and our community free from fear and accessing the services and help they will most certainly need for a long time to come.”

Jessica Dominguez, Esq.:  “I am heartbroken by what has happened at Miramonte Elementary School. I am appalled by the lack of oversight at this institution of learning and the disregard these precious children experienced under the care of so-called responsible adults.  No community deserves to be taken for granted and left alone to fend the wolves on its own.

I am a mother of two sons and throughout my legal career I have focused on helping families do the right thing, respect and collaborate with institutions, and fight for their rights.  I have never felt more of the need to protect children and their families as I have in this case.  The fear to speak and to denounce their terrible experience mars every one of their actions and words.  No one’s immigration status should subject them to a life of pain and suffering.  We are a better nation than that and we should help these children and their families, doing whatever we need to do, begin their journey to healing.”

Gregory James Owen, Esq.:  “The very young and the very old are the most vulnerable members of our society. There are and always have been perverted individuals who live among us who, for their own sadistic reasons, choose to violate these innocents that are unable to protect themselves–our children. We as a society are the guardians of our children. In an ideal world, they grow up in kind and nurturing environments. When we learn that our precious children have been abused by a trusted adviser, teacher, or friend–someone like Mark Berndt or Martin Springer–our mission must be two-fold:

We must first root out the abusers and punish them to the extent allowed by our society with the intent to prevent future acts which serve to injure our children. If an institution such as the Catholic church or  LAUSD could have prevented this, we must take immediate action in order to change the system. Then, after the perpetrators have been put behind bars, our most important work begins.

It is our experience that the beautiful children who have had their innocence stolen by the deviant acts of these perpetrators will never be the same. They will never completely heal. They will always know in the back of their minds that they have been tainted in some way. It is our collective duty to do everything in our power to help these children to recapture the innocence that was wrongfully taken from them.”

 

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