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Manly Stewart & Finaldi and The Senators (Ret.) Firm LLP Announce New Lawsuit Against Riverside Unified School District Alleging Sexual Abuse of Three More Children by Former Liberty Elementary School Teachers’ Aide Fernando Figueroa

In 2019, a third lawsuit was filed against Riverside Unified School District for the sexual abuse of three additional children by former aide Fernando Figueroa, bringing the firm's active cases to six, following a previous $6.2 million settlement.

Irvine, California – Prominent child sexual abuse survivors’ law firms Manly Stewart & Finaldi and The Senators (Ret.) Firm LLP have filed a third lawsuit against Riverside Unified School District, former Liberty Elementary School Principal Esther Garcia, and several other school administrators on behalf of three additional victims of child sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by former Liberty Elementary School teachers’ aide Fernando Figueroa. The firm currently represents six victims with active lawsuits against the District. A prior lawsuit by the same firms on behalf of three other alleged victims was settled by RUSD late last year for $6.2 million.

Figueroa was arrested in February of 2017 on multiple counts of child sexual abuse, was indicted last year by a Riverside County Grand Jury on felony charges that he sexually abused 11 children on the Liberty campus, and is currently in jail awaiting trial. The charges include lewd and lascivious acts with multiple children under of 14 and oral copulation with a child under 10.

According to attorney Ronald Labriola of The Senators Firm, the newly filed case “involves facts and circumstances that are virtually identical to the previously-settled cases, all of which reflect an epic failure by RUSD and its administrators to protect children under their care.” The new lawsuit alleges that Figueroa molested the three minor plaintiffs on the Liberty campus and that the abuse resulted in serious emotional and psychological distress.

The plaintiffs allege that RUSD negligently hired and failed to monitor and supervise Figueroa, which allowed him unfettered access to victims during the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years. They also allege that a number of victims, eyewitnesses, and parents reported Figueroa's alleged sexual misconduct to Liberty teachers and to Principal Esther Garcia before or during the time Figueroa was abusing them. Yet, plaintiffs allege Garcia and her staff took no action and specifically failed to alert local authorities as required by California’s mandatory child abuse reporting law. It is also alleged that RUSD failed to conduct an adequate background check of Figueroa, who had been accused of child sexual misconduct with a family member before RUSD hired him.

“This lawsuit represents a continuing pattern of abuse and disregard for the civil rights of students and families who are overwhelmingly poor and Latino,” said Morgan Stewart of Manly Stewart & Finaldi. Stewart also noted that based on evidence gathered in the first lawsuits, RUSD and several of its employees have been reported to the State Attorney General, the California Department of Education, the Riverside Police Department, and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing for falsifying records and child endangerment related to the cases, and that investigations are said to be ongoing.

“We are ready and willing to take the new case to trial to allow citizens, many of whom are parents or grandparents, to judge for themselves RUSD’s conduct in failing to prevent these horrendous acts,” said Stewart, who added that a refusal of RUSD to resolve the case “could result in trial verdicts greatly exceeding the earlier settlements, including punitive damages not covered by insurance.” He said he hopes to start trial in the new cases before the end of the year and that lawsuits on behalf of additional victims are likely to be filed soon.

Manly Stewart & Finaldi is the nation’s leading firm representing athletes in child sexual abuse cases against school districts, Universities, and Olympic Governing Bodies. They recently represented 180 alleged victims of former Olympic Team doctor Larry Nassar, resulting in a $500 million-dollar settlement against Michigan State University. In 2018, the firm settled cases against the Torrance Unified School District for $31 million on behalf of alleged victims of former wrestling coach and convicted child molester Thomas Snider, against Los Angeles Unified School district for $8 million in cases involving former football coach and convicted child molester Jamie Jimenez, and for $14 million in cases involving former Los Angeles Unified District employee Ronnie Lee Roman.

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Manly, Stewart & Finaldi is regarded as America's leading law firm for sexual abuse cases. As a firm that exclusively handles sexual abuse cases, our California law firm offers experienced representation to obtain justice for sexual abuse survivors, harassment, and discrimination.

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