Famed attorney Mark Geragos is known for clients like Michael Jackson and singer Chris Brown. He is now representing two students at Gerald Ford Elementary School in Indian Wells, who claim their fourth grade teacher Robert Keith Bryan molested them last school year. The allegations sparked an assault investigation and led to his arrest last August.
"One of the things you hope for in a civilized society, when you drop your kids off at school, that someone's looking out for them," said Geragos.
The high profile criminal defense attorney says that hope was tarnished for some families in Indian Wells.
On January 30, they filed a lawsuit with the Larson Justice Center in Indio against Bryan, the Desert Sands Unified School District, and former Gerald Ford principal Theresa Kachiroubas for negligent supervision, hiring, and retention. Their complaint against Bryan includes sexual harassment, sexual assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
"The families sought us out. They thought what was going on in the school district was outrageous. I shared their concerns and I was completely appalled," said Geragos.
Geragos says he’s appalled that dating back 20 years, the district told the afterschool "Math Field Day" instructor on three occasions to stop inappropriately touching his girl students. Investigators found that DSUSD only suspended Bryan for 10 days without pay in October of 1994 and transferred him from one school to the next; consequences the attorney says weren't enough.
"I've never seen someone get shuffled around from school to school and engage in this predatory behavior," he said.
Geragos says former principal Kachiroubas, who retired at the end of last school year, also needs to take responsibility.
"The principal knew of all of these allegations. It's been discovered in the lawsuit, and they hold her accountable as much as the predator for putting kids in this situation," he said.
DSUSD Assistant Superintendent Sherry Johnstone says while the issue is under police investigation, the district cannot comment on the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Geragos and his legal team say they're prepared to shine light on the truth and bring some relief.
"Exactly what the parents want is to make sure this never happens to anybody again and that the school district understands it can't just shuffle its problems around until someone else uncovers it," he said.
The attorney says his firm has already served DSUSD and the two defendants with the lawsuit. It’s looking forward to an early trial date.