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Former Nipomo wrestling coach facing second lawsuit alleging sexual harassment

Posted at 3:04 PM, Mar 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 23:05:59-05

A former Nipomo High School girls’ wrestling coach is facing another lawsuit accusing him of sexually harassing students.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of a teen identified only as “Jane Doe,” accuses Justin Magdaleno and the Lucia Mar Unified School District of negligent hiring, supervision and retention, sexual harassment, battery, and assault, among other claims.

The lawsuit claims the school district “knew or should have known that Defendant Justin Magdaleno exhibited a disturbing pattern of physically abusing and harassing members of the girls’ wrestling team at Nipomo High School and that he had sexually harassed and provided alcohol to minors at his previous place of employment.”

It goes on to claim that Magdaleno objectified the female students and commented on their bodies, grabbed the girls in their private areas “under the guise of demonstrating ‘wrestling moves,'” and used fear and intimidation to control them.

According to the lawsuit, Jane Doe started her freshman year at Nipomo High School in 2016 and joined the wrestling team that fall.

It claims that in the spring of 2017, several members of the wrestling team went to school administrators to complain about sexual harassment and misconduct by Magdaleno but nothing was done.

During a summer wrestling camp in 2017, the plaintiff claims Magdaleno targeted her and battered her “under the pretext of demonstrating ‘wrestling moves,'” leaving her with bruises and in one case, in so much pain she “could barely walk for several days.”

In October 2017, according to the lawsuit, the girl and two other students talked to the principal about the allegations against Magdaleno. It says the coach then retaliated by encouraging other students to harass the plaintiff and the other girls.

The school district placed Magdaleno on administrative leave that fall.

In April 2018, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office turned over its investigation into Magdaleno to the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, recommending charges of lewd acts with a minor and annoying or molesting a child. The DA’s office said it decided not to file charges against Magdaleno because “the evidence was insufficient to establish criminal conduct beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The school district reportedly conducted its own investigation and in June 2018, entered into an agreement with Magdaleno for his resignation. As part of that agreement, Magdaleno was paid $31,812 in wages. The agreement included no admission of fault or wrongdoing by either party, but Magdaleno was barred from any future positions within the Lucia Mar Unified School District.

The lawsuit claims the plaintiff has suffered physical injury, severe emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment, mental and emotional distress and anxiety, and economic harm. It does not ask for a specific amount of money but seeks economic damages and asks for a jury trial.

Gloria Allred is representing the plaintiff. She is also representing the plaintiff in another lawsuit filed against Magdaleno and the school district last August.

At that time, the school district said new allegations revealed in the lawsuit prompted them to pass it along to law enforcement for further investigation. While the sheriff’s office was unavailable for comment Friday, a DA spokesperson said the case has not been resubmitted to their office.

Magdaleno has denied the allegations against him. In September 2018, he filed a response in court to the first lawsuit, requesting that the plaintiff pay for all court costs and asking that the lawsuit be dismissed.

KSBY News reached out to the Lucia Mar Unified School District for comment but a representative said they were not familiar with the latest lawsuit.

In a statement sent to KSBY News, Allred said, “Every parent has a right to expect that their child will be safe when they attend a public school or a school-run program. The law mandates that those who are in a position of authority and power must respect a student’s rights and not take advantage of their position to sexually abuse the minors who are entrusted to them. Our clients have suffered because this school district failed to protect them. We look forward to vindicating their rights in a court of law.”