Orange County, California – Greenberg Gross has filed a lawsuit against San Diego’s Grossmont Union High School District alleging a horrific case of repeated sexual assaults by a male counselor against a student in the 1980s at Santana High School.
The lawsuit states that the assaults by counselor Douglas Ray Foster began in 1981 when Shawn Morris was a 14-year-old freshman at Santana High School. In addition, the assaults took place on and off campus. The Grossmont Union High School District says Foster later died in 1990.
Morris, now 54, was especially vulnerable, the lawsuit said, because his parents divorced and his stepfather was abusive to his mother. Looking for guidance and support from a male figure, Morris became an aide to Foster. After becoming an aide, the sexual assaults eventually happened several times a week, sometimes daily. “The complete lack of supervision at Santana High School allowed these assaults to occur in (his) office, in classrooms, and in custodial closets,” the lawsuit said. “School leadership failed plaintiff in the most tragic way imaginable.”
Even though Morris did not tell school staff about the abuse at the time, the lawsuit said staff should have noticed Foster’s suspicious behavior, such as him pulling Morris into his room alone several times a week and closing the blinds. “It has to raise red flags; it has to raise suspicions,” said Partner Brian L. Williams, who is representing Morris. “And the failure to notice and make a response or even an inquiry into such suspicions is negligence. And that’s what we’re suing the school for.”
“I am coming forward to share my story to protect others, heal, and have an opportunity at a better life,” said Morris. He is suing Grossmont under a California law that allows victims of childhood sexual assault to take legal action against their perpetrator, or someone who owed them a duty of care, within five years of discovering that they suffered psychological harm or illness because of the sexual assault. Or, the victim can also come forward within 22 years of becoming an adult. Additionally, the law allows people to file legal claims within three years of Jan. 1, 2020.
Linked and Related News Coverage:
- Man sues Grossmont school district alleging counselor sexually assaulted him at school
November 26, 2021 | San Diego Union Tribune
- Santana Student Raped Countless Times in Early 1980s by Counselor, Suit Alleges
November 24, 2021 | Times of San Diego
Greenberg Gross Contacts
Brian Williams: 949.383.2780 (o)
Jemma Dunn: 949.383.2785 (o)