Greenberg Gross filed a childhood sexual assault lawsuit on behalf of current Merced City Council Member Fernando Echevarria, against Merced City School District (MCSD) and former 8th grade teacher Robert Wayne Plumskey (Plumskey). The lawsuit alleges that from 1970 to 1977, MCSD failed to keep its students safe from a sexual predator. MCSD allowed Plumskey, an 8th grade teacher at Herbert C. Hoover Middle School, to orchestrate group masturbation sessions with middle school boys and to further sexually assault them individually.
Plumskey’s abhorrent conduct occurred in his classroom, during school hours, and with no supervision or monitoring from any MCSD staff. With the approval of MCSD’s vice-principal, Plumskey assembled the only all-male classrooms in what was otherwise a co-educational school. Plumskey decorated his walls with suggestive imagery, surrounded his desk with lounge couches and rugs, and played sexually suggestive music. MCSD chose to ignore clear “red flags” that Plumskey was engaging in inappropriate behavior, including the grooming and sexual abuse of minors.
Plaintiff was 12 years old when assigned to Plumskey’s 8th grade classroom. When other students went to the cafeteria area for lunch, Plaintiff and a few other boys were invited by Plumskey to stay in the classroom. While the young boys would sit on couches and surround the teacher’s desk, Plumskey would show the students pornographic material displaying sexual relations of all kinds. Then, using his power and influence, Plumskey would coerce the group of boys to engage in group self-gratification. This abhorrent activity caused the Plaintiff to suffer shame, embarrassment, confusion, and anger. Plumskey additionally sexually abused Plaintiff and other boys in other ways, including one-on-on incidents of sexual assault.
All this occurred on a regular basis from Fall 1976 to Spring 1977, without any agent of MCSD ever monitoring, supervising, checking in on these underage boys or asking why they weren’t at the cafeteria with the rest of the school. In early-1977, one of the other student victims courageously reported Plumskey’s misconduct to authorities. Plumskey was subsequently arrested and convicted of violating Penal Code 647a in the Merced Justice Court and his teaching credential was revoked. Shockingly, the school took no further action to investigate Plumskey’s abuse.
As a result of the above-described conduct, Plaintiff has suffered years of emotional distress. Plaintiff is suing under a California law that allows victims of childhood sexual assault to take legal action against their perpetrator, or a person or entity who owed them a duty of care, regardless of when the actual assault occurred. To take advantage of this opportunity, any lawsuit must be filed by December 31, 2022.
Greenberg Gross partner Brian Williams commented on the significance of the case:
“What happened to my client is tragic. Mr. Echevarria has taken the courageous step to come forward to bring awareness to the situation and encourage other survivors to come forward. As an elected official, Mr. Echevarria is committed to helping other survivors seek justice and preventing future abuse in our public schools. We could not be more proud of him for his efforts and strength.”
Linked and Related News Coverage:
- Merced leader alleges sexual abuse by teacher during ’70s
October 4, 2022 | Merced Sun-Star