Calif. lawsuit claims school didn't report sex abuse complaints against coach

Former Kennedy assistant water polo and swimming coach Joshua Owens (Photo: Buena Park Police Department) Photo: Buena Park Police Department

Calif. lawsuit claims school didn't report sex abuse complaints against coach

Water Polo

Calif. lawsuit claims school didn't report sex abuse complaints against coach

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A new lawsuit in California claims that the Anaheim Unified School District concealed complaints about sexual abuse and harassment against a former water polo coach, who was then later convicted of precisely those charges.

As reported by the Orange County Register, a current and former John F. Kennedy High School (Anaheim, Calif.) female student athlete both claim former Kennedy assistant water polo and swimming coach Joshua Christopher Owens sexually abused them between 2014 and 2016. He pleaded guilty to felonious oral copulation of a victim younger than 16 and felonious sexual penetration of a victim younger than 16, landing himself a six month jail sentence.

The lawsuit filed by the two victims accuses former Kennedy High School Principal Russell Earnest, former coach Eric Pierce, Athletic Director David Jankowski, co-Athletic Director Dean Wang and teacher Ian Sabala of covering up the complaints that were lodged against Owens.

The Register laid out more details of the alleged sexual assaults and subsequent cover-up operation:

The lawsuit contends two years prior to Owens arrest, a parent reported Owens’ suspected abuse of his daughter to Pierce. Then, a year later, a former student notified Sabala that Owens was alleged to be abusing pupils, according to the complaint.

Sabala, in turn, advised Jankowski, Wang, and Earnest of the alleged abuse, but none of the defendants performed their mandatory duty to report Owens to law enforcement, the suit says.

Indeed, the lawyer for the teens has requested that Owens and his fellow defendants all be investigated for, “failing to report under California’s mandated reporter law.”

Per Morgan Stewart, the lawyer representing the alleged victims:

“In today’s environment, to have five administrators and staff of Anaheim Unified High School District ignore their obligations as reporters under law is abhorrent,” Stewart told the Register. “To have Anaheim Unified High School District then continue to employ Jankowski, Wang and Sabala, despite these failures to report, only reinforces that Anaheim Unified High School District tolerates the abuse of its students and rewards those who fail to report.”

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Calif. lawsuit claims school didn't report sex abuse complaints against coach
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