A former student is the latest to sue a teacher convicted of molesting several girls while working at Gerald Ford Elementary School. In court documents filed Wednesday by Attorney Mark Garagos, it alleges that the young plaintiff was sexually assaulted in the classroom by her 4th grade teacher, Robert Keith Bryan during the 2009 and 2010 school year.
This is the third suit brought against Bryan and the Desert Sands Unified School District, one of which has already been settled for $650,000.
The suit also claims that principal Theresa Kachiroubas acted with reckless disregard for the safety of students by not properly supervising Bryan and allowing him to be alone with female students.
Former teacher sentenced to nine years in state prison for molesting eight students (July 14):
A former Indian Wells elementary school teacher who admitted molesting eight of his students was sentenced Friday to nine years in state prison.
Robert Keith Bryan, 64, pleaded guilty in May to four of 12 felony counts of lewd acts on a child that had been filed against him in 2012, along with four of five misdemeanor counts of molesting a child.
The Palm Desert resident, who taught fourth-graders at Gerald R. Ford Elementary School, admitted guilt on the day his jury trial was set to proceed at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.
A 10-year-old girl was the first to allege that Bryan touched her private parts over her clothes while she was in his classroom during the 2011- 12 school year.
According to Riverside County Sheriff's Investigator Michael Gaunt, seven other female students also told authorities Bryan ``touched their bodies in a manner that made them feel `uncomfortable' or `weird,''' such as patting them on the buttocks and stomachs or rubbing their lower backs.
Bryan had inappropriate conduct allegations lodged against him dating back years. The educator was suspected of committing a lewd act in 1992 but wasn't charged because of a lack of evidence, according to the investigator.
In 1994, Bryan was suspended from the school district without pay for inappropriately rubbing a female student's back, and was told by the school's principal that he had to stop touching students and not be alone with one pupil or he might face disciplinary action, according to Gaunt.
When authorities served a search warrant at Bryan's classroom in July 2012, they found a photo of a topless girl that had been downloaded four times on his computer and several other ``suggestive'' images of girls, Gaunt said.
The computer contained ``several thousand'' images of children, according to the investigator.
Students in Bryan's class during the school year claimed he took ``numerous'' photos and videos of them during school hours, according to Gaunt.
Paul Wallin, Bryan's attorney at the time of his arrest, said then that the educator ``vehemently'' denied the allegations and had ``been an outstanding educator for over 30 years.'' He said Bryan had ``never been convicted of any criminal offense in his entire life, and has been a local homeowner for 26 years. He has taught thousands of students over these almost three decades.''
Bryan started working for the Desert Sands Unified School District in 1986 and retired from the district in August 2012.
A lawsuit filed in January 2013 on behalf of two victims against the school district, Gerald R. Ford Elementary's principal and Bryan alleged he was ``known to engage in inappropriate touching and other lewd conduct'' but was allowed ``to continue teaching and remain unsupervised with young female students.''
In January, the district agreed to pay $650,000 to one of the two girls, according to plaintiff's attorney Ben Meiselas.
``Of course, there is nothing that will undo the torment caused to our client,'' he said then. ``However, this resolution was a significant result for her and her family who have fought admirably for the past three years.''
A spokeswoman said the DSUSD, at the recommendation of legal counsel, agreed to the financial settlement as a trial would be ``an emotionally and financially difficult process, especially for the family.''