Law­suit de­tails new al­le­ga­tions against teacher

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES - By Stephen Ceasar stephen.ceasar@la­times.com

A law­suit filed in Los An­ge­les County Su­pe­rior Court on Wed­nes­day de­tailed new al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct by a for­mer Marl­bor­ough School teacher, in­clud­ing a re­ported his­tory of sex­ual abuse of stu­dents at other Los An­ge­les-area pri­vate schools that were ap­par­ently ig­nored when he was hired at the Han­cock Park all-girls school.

The law­suit, filed by an un­named 30-year-old for­mer Marl­bor­ough stu­dent, al­leges that the teacher ini­ti­ated a year­long sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with her in 2000, when she was 16.

The law­suit also said that Marl­bor­ough ig­nored past al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct by Joseph Thomas Koet­ters at Polytech­nic School in Pasadena and View­point School in Cal­abasas.

Marl­bor­ough failed to in­ves­ti­gate com­plaints against the teacher or to alert au­thor­i­ties to pos­si­ble abuse and stood by as Koet­ters preyed on at least two other stu­dents over more than a decade on cam­pus, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit.

School of­fi­cials also ap­par­ently helped him se­cure an­other teach­ing job rather than fire him and failed to alert Polytech­nic School of the al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct be­fore Koet­ters was re­hired there in 2013, the woman said in the law­suit.

“Be­cause the mat­ter is the sub­ject of a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and now in lit­i­ga­tion, it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment at this time,” Marl­bor­ough spokes­woman Carly Ro­driguez said in a state­ment.

Koet­ters, who was ar­rested in Fe­bru­ary, faces crim­i­nal charges re­lated to his time at Marl­bor­ough, in­clud­ing two counts each of oral cop­u­la­tion and pen­e­tra­tion with a for­eign ob­ject in­volv­ing some­one un­der 18, ac­cord­ing to the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

He is ac­cused of car­ry­ing on a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with a 16-year-old stu­dent be­gin­ning in 2000.

Koet­ters, 47, pleaded not guilty to all charges and is free on $140,000 bail.

David M. Ring, an at­tor­ney who rep­re­sents the for­mer stu­dent, said the un­named plain­tiff in the law­suit is the same woman men­tioned in the crim­i­nal case against Koet­ters.

Nei­ther Marl­bor­ough School nor Koet­ters were iden­ti­fied in the law­suit be­cause of a pro­ce­dural rule.

At­tor­ney Leonard Levine, who rep­re­sents Koet­ters, said he was un­aware of the law­suit and de­clined to com­ment.

Polytech­nic School said in a state­ment that an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion last year found no ev­i­dence that its ad­min­is­tra­tors were aware of any mis­con­duct by Koet­ters dur­ing his one year there in the 1990s.

Of­fi­cials at View­point could not be reached for com­ment.

The law­suit al­leges that Koet­ters was forced to re­sign from his job at Polytech­nic School in 1992 af­ter the ad­min­is­tra­tion learned that he en­gaged in “un­law­ful sex­ual acts” with a stu­dent.

Af­ter his time at Polytech­nic, he be­gan grad­u­ate school in Santa Bar­bara, where he worked as a teacher’s as­sis­tant in an un­der­grad­u­ate class. Ac­cord­ing to the law­suit, an 18-year-old fe­male stu­dent said that he re­peat­edly made sex­ual com­ments and ad­vances to­ward her.

Koet­ters be­gan teach­ing at View­point School in Cal­abasas, but was fired af­ter ap­par­ently shov­ing a male stu­dent and amid com­plaints from fe­male stu­dents.

Be­fore be­ing hired at Marl­bor­ough in 1999, a school of­fi­cial con­tacted Polytech­nic and View­point for a ref­er­ence and was alerted to the al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct, the woman said in the law­suit.

Koet­ters down­played the al­le­ga­tions and de­nied any sex­ual acts, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit.

He be­gan teach­ing at Marl­bor­ough in the 19992000 school year.

In the law­suit, the for­mer stu­dent said she was ma­nip­u­lated into a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with Koet­ters in 2000 and even­tu­ally be­came preg­nant by the teacher and had a mis­car­riage.

Allen J. Sch­aben Los An­ge­les Times

MARL­BOR­OUGH School in Han­cock Park failed to in­ves­ti­gate com­plaints against a teacher or to alert au­thor­i­ties to pos­si­ble abuse, a law­suit al­leges.

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