The mother of a now-15-year-old girl filed a lawsuit on behalf of her daughter against Miami-Dade County Public Schools Wednesday after she said no action was taken when a physical education teacher was accused of being inappropriate with female students.
The mother, whose name was not released, filed the lawsuit with the help of attorney Jeff Herman of Herman, Mermelstein & Horowitz, P.A. The lawsuit alleges physical education teacher Carlos Usatorres, who works at Miami Springs Middle School, had sex with her 12-year-old daughter on the school’s property.
Herman said the lawsuit was filed as a Federal Title IX, which puts no cap on awarded damages.
School district spokesman John Schuster released a statement about the lawsuit.
“The school district does not comment on pending litigation. No allegation regarding this incident has been received by the school district indicating the involvement or prior knowledge of any administrator," he said.
Herman, who spoke at a press conference Wednesday along with the girl’s mother, said the girl became a compliant victim for a long period of time. The lawsuit also alleges that other female students skipped classes to visit Usatorres and used his office as a changing room.
“Schools have a responsibility to protect their students,” Herman told NBC 6.
Herman and the girl’s mother also believe the principal of the middle school was aware girls were changing with him in the office, but failed to take appropriate action and only facilitated his access to the children, Herman said.
“There was no enforcement, there was no follow-up, there was no other corrective measures taken,” Herman said. “When you have red flags, those red flags you have to follow.”
Officials and the girl’s mother were alerted to the allegations after a colleague of the teacher sent an anonymous note to the school system that “something was going on,” according to Herman.
“My first thinking was, if I could, I would kill him,” the mother said about being alerted to the alleged incident.
She thought that changes she saw in her daughter’s behavior were due to their recent move from another country.
“I thought that she missed her friends and family, and I thought that was why she changed,” her mother said.
Herman, who said he has spoken with another student that alleged sexual conduct with Usatorres, said he believes the teacher is still employed with the school but was placed on leave.
The mother said her daughter has been scarred from the incident.
“She is not a child anymore,” she said.
Usatorres, who was arrested in December 2010 after the school was notified, is expected to appear in court for his trial June 18.
He faces three counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a child and five counts of lewd and lascivious molestation on a child, according to Miami-Dade County online records.