Lake Oswego School Lawsuit Settled

Lake OswegoThis week, the Lake Oswego School District approved the settlement of claims brought by five brave men who committed themselves to finding justice for the sexual abuse they suffered as children at the hands of their elementary school teacher.  The men were in Judd W. Johnson’s fifth-grade class when, these men claimed, he sexually fondled them on many occasions.

My former law partner, Kelly Clark, filed the lawsuit on behalf of these men back in 2008.  When Kelly passed away last December, I took the case over for him and am proud to have helped the five men negotiate settlements with the Lake Oswego School District and Johnson.

The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of Oregon’s two-year statute of limitations on abuse charges against Oregon government employees, including public school teachers. The time limits are much longer for filing a lawsuit against a private school or other private organizations like churches or civic clubs.

The trial court dismissed the lawsuit in 2011, finding that it was filed too late.  The Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling. But last year the Oregon Supreme Court disagreed, emphasizing that the men alleged that Johnson gained their trust and respect, even befriending their families, before the alleged abuse. That “grooming” left room for disagreement about when the time limits started to run, the court determined.

Settlement of their claims took a long time because of the lengthy appeals process.  But these men stuck with the case until the end.  As a result, they broke the ground for possible legal reforms that would make it easier for other children abused by public school teachers to bring claims.  This is a positive step forward for child abuse victims in Oregon.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

newspaper templates - theme rewards