A California school district has paid $2.8 million to settle lawsuits with four former students who say they were the victims of sexual abuse by a teacher.
The Fresno Bee reports that the Monson-Sultana Joint Union School District in Tulare County agreed to the payments in connection with abuse by David Blancas.
The lawsuits contended that Blancas took photos of the students' genitals as the teens slept on overnight trips. The photos were discovered during a police investigation that led to Blancas' arrest in 2012.
The district has already paid $4 million to settle a lawsuit with another former student.
Blancas was sentenced in 2013 to serve 25 years to life in prison for sexual abuse. He was a teacher at Monson-Sultana Joint Union Elementary, the only school in the district, for 17 years.
Attorney Brian Kabateck asserted that Blancas' sexual misconduct was first reported to the police in 1995, and that the school district knew about the reports but didn't take action.
He said in a news release that the district and its administrators had turned "a blind eye to the egregious acts of a predator who preyed on children for decades."
"These settlements provide our clients with a sense of closure and the ability to move forward with their lives and put this traumatic experience behind them," Kabateck says.
YouTube video from KFSN-TV. Interview with attorney Brian Kabateck on lawsuit settlement.