A woman has come forward with a lawsuit against her former assistant band teacher, claiming that he sexually abused her and coerced her into an abortion as a teenager.
The woman, who is being named only as ‘Sandra,’ is suing the Paramount Unified School District. Attorney Samuel Dordulian alleges that not only was she the victim of sexual abuse and statutory rape at the age of 16, but other staff members also knew — and helped the teacher coerce Sandra into an abortion.
“Sandra was 16 when she was sexually abused by the assistant music teacher,” Dordulian said. “What’s worse is a supervisor was complicit in their relationship and in the ruse that was created.”
In an interview with NBC Los Angeles, Sandra said that even 20 years later, she’s still suffering. “[T]he pain today is as strong as the day it happened,” she said. “I had an abortion without my parents’ knowledge or consent. He made me believe that me loved me.”
After getting pregnant, Sandra said she told the band director, who was Paramount Band High School Assistant Steven Velasquez’s supervisor. The band director is not named in the lawsuit, but he allegedly helped Velasquez pressure Sandra into an abortion by leading her to believe Velasquez had died. This was seemingly out of an effort to hide the scandal of a teacher raping his student.
“Sandra believes he went along with the ruse that Steven had suddenly died,” Dordulian said. “He ensured her it was in her best interest to have an abortion and even arranged the clinic where Sandra would eventually have her abortion.”
It is not unusual for victims of sexual abuse to remain silent for a long time. One study found that just 5% of teenagers who experienced sexual abuse reported it to police. Another study found that many victims reported feeling too ashamed to speak up.But by speaking out now, Sandra hopes she gives other potential victims the courage to speak up, too — and she hasn’t forgotten the baby she lost all those years ago.
“When that needle went into my baby’s heart to stop it from beating, a piece of my heart died that day that I will never get back,” she said, in describing what sounds like an abortion later in pregnancy. “It’s time for all those responsible to stand up and speak the truth. Because in this life the only thing that will set you free is the truth.”