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Schools are supposed to protect the safety of their students. Teachers are at the forefront of this protection effort. Students are taught by their parents and by schools to trust their teachers. These influences and social norms prompt young students to believe what their teachers are telling them and to do what their teachers are instructing them to do. In the vast majority of situations, this all works as it should. Unfortunately, when a teacher crosses the line and engages in sexual abuse of a child, the long-term harm for that student can be devastating. Unfortunately, authorities are alleging that a teacher at a high school in Riverside was involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of her minor students. The child abuse attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys have gotten involved and plan to fight for the rights of the child.
According to an article published in the Press-Enterprise, Camryn Zelinger, a 32-year-old teacher at Encore High School for the Arts in Riverside, was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor and annoying or molesting a child under 18. The student who was allegedly involved with the suspect is a girl who is 14 years old. According to the article, the student’s mother found troubling text messages on the student’s phone and alerted authorities. This is what led to the arrest. The teacher has been released after posting $50,000 in bail. Her next court date is sometime in April.
Reports indicate that on Friday morning of last week, the mother of the alleged victim noticed the girl reading and sending text messages. She asked her daughter who she was texting, and the daughter refused to respond. That prompted the mother to grab the cell phone away from her daughter. She saw text messages on her daughter’s phone that were “sexually suggestive” in nature. These text messages were allegedly sent between the girl and the suspect.
The mother responded by calling the Riverside Police Department. The police began their investigation that night. After investigating the situation over the weekend, they appeared at the school on Monday and detained the suspect. She was brought to the police department for questioning. Later that day, she was arrested and booked. After posting bail, she was released. At this time, police do not believe that there are any other potential victims, nor do they believe that any other faculty members were involved.
When a teacher engages in the sexual abuse of a child, that teacher can and often does face criminal prosecution if the situation is reported to authorities. In addition, a teacher who engages in the sexual abuse of a child can also face civil liability, as can the school and school district at which the teacher works. While nothing has been proven in a court of law with regards to this situation, the mother of the alleged victim in this case reached out to the children’s rights lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys. John Gomez, the founder of the firm, provided statements for the article published in the Press Enterprise.
Mr. Gomez stated that he understands the nature of the harm that was allegedly inflicted not only upon the child, but also on the child’s family. While criminal courts can redress a crime that was committed looking back on the past, these courts generally are not equipped to do so with regards to harm that will be encountered by victims of crimes in the future. Civil courts can do that by way of several different remedies. Specifically, if it’s proven that the teacher engaged in the sexual abuse of a child, both that child and that child’s family will continue to encounter emotional and psychological challenges as they work through such a difficult experience. The children’s rights lawyers at the firm will fight to redress this harm by pursuing a legal action against the responsible party or parties.
Unfortunately, this is hardly the only alleged incident regarding a teacher and an underage student that has occurred recently in the United States. CPIU, or Counter Pedophilia Investigation Unit, is a coalition of experts in the fields of technology, law enforcement and counter-pedophilia. CPIU has published statistics regarding teacher-student sexual abuse allegations. These statistics include the following:
It’s also commonly known that when it comes to the sexual abuse of a child, a large number of cases are never reported for various reasons.
The bottom line is that we do not know and may never know exactly how many students are being abused by teachers. What we do know is that cases where these allegations are false are extremely rare, so any time a child comes forward he or she should be taken seriously. As this current situation also shows, parents and anyone else who suspects that something may be wrong should act on those instincts and do what it takes to find out more about what could be happening.
The best way to combat this serious problem is to make sure that when we find out that it is happening, we do what it takes to hold those responsible for this terrible harm accountable. Contacting law enforcement is a good first step, and the children’s rights lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys would like to commend the quick action taken by the Riverside Police Department in this case. You should also contact Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible to schedule a free case evaluation if your child has been harmed.
Posted in: Children's Rights
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