LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Unified School District will pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by two former students who were molested by a teacher at Telfair Elementary School in Pacoima.

LAUSD officials could not be reached for immediate comment on the lawsuit, which alleged the district was negligent in its supervision of former
third-grade teacher Paul Chapel.

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“They were heroes. They stood up and they called attention to what this teacher was doing,” said attorney Thomas Cifarelli, who represented the two students.

The lawsuit contended that Chapel was accused of molesting a boy at his Ventura County home in 1997 and reassigned by the district temporarily to an
administrative office.

“In that criminal case, to bring him up on charges and to bring him to trial, that’s not an easy standard,” Cifarelli said. “While that trial did not result in a conviction, it didn’t result in an acquittal either.”

A jury that heard the criminal case against him could not reach a verdict, and he was eventually allowed back into the classroom and assigned to Telfair in 1998, the lawsuit stated.

Cifarelli says the district should have monitored Chapel given the allegations that swirled in his past; He says the LAUSD never notified the principal at Telfair Elementary about those claims.

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At Telfair, Chapel molested the two 8-year-old students in 2011. When the first victim came forward reporting abuse Chapel was allowed to teach another six weeks.

“Put an aide in the classroom, require doors to be kept open, those are sort of things that could’ve been done that would have prevented this,” Cifarelli said.

Chapel was sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in prison for molesting 13 former students over a roughly four-and-a-half-year period. He pleaded no contest to 13 acts of lewd acts on a child.

Dave Holmquist, LAUSD general counsel, sent CBS2/KCAL9 a statement which read: “Unfortunately, plaintiffs suffered harm before the teacher’s activities were uncovered. For this reason and in an effort to shield the young children from a long and emotional trial, we are finalizing settlements which we are confident will provide for the future health and educational needs of the students involved.”

The LAUSD originally hired Chapel in 1989, according to the suit.

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