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LAUSD Board Settles Sexual Harassment Claim Against Ramon Cortines

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(credit: CBS) Serene Branson
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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Los Angeles Unified School District has made a settlement offer in a sexual-harassment claim filed by a senior management employee against retired Superintendent Ramon Cortines.

LAUSD officials say Scot Graham claims that Cortines sexually assaulted him during a visit to Cortines’ Kern County ranch in July 2010.

Cortines, 79, retired in 2011 and the threat of a suit was brought to the district in March 2012.

The Board of Education voted 4-3 during executive closed session Tuesday to settle the claim offering $200,000 in cash and approximately $250,000 in lifetime medical benefits.

“None of us know what happened and none of us ever will know what happened,” Linda Miller Savitt, outside counsel for the LAUSD, told CBS2′s Serene Branson.

“The reality is in these types of legal cases 98 percent of the cases settle. So you can spend a lot of time and energy and it’s sometimes very unhealthy energy and money to get to almost the same place years down the road,” she added.

The LAUSD released the following statement:

“Ensuring a health and safe school and work environment is necessary to conduct the work of teaching and learning. We take all sexual harassment allegations seriously. In all cases, the Board gives maximum consideration to the best use of public funds and the District must ensure that it uses its precious resources wisely. After extensive discussion and deliberation, the Board entered into a settlement agreement in order to resolve the claim. The District’s outside counsel will be available for additional comment and details.”

Cortines also released a statement through the district, which read in part, “during a weekend trip we did engage in consensual spontaneous adult behavior on one occasion.”

Cortines went on to say, “as the District’s top staff member I regret allowing myself to engage in such spontaneous consensual behavior. However, Mr. Graham never indicated to me that our interaction was unwelcome.”

Graham, who worked for the district for about 12 years, made about $150,000 per year. He is still a current employee but is set to leave his post this month.

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