Belmont-Redwood Shores School District Failed to Protect Students from Sexual Assaults: Lawsuit

By Jean Elle and Kristofer Noceda
|  Friday, Feb 28, 2014  |  Updated 7:52 AM PDT
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A 25-year-old Peninsula woman claims the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District failed to protect her and other young students from sexual assaults committed by a campus janitor. Jean Elle reports.

A 25-year-old Peninsula woman claims the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District failed to protect her and other young students from sexual assaults committed by a campus janitor. Jean Elle reports.

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A 25-year-old Peninsula woman claims the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District failed to protect her and other young students from sexual assaults committed by a campus janitor.

Roxanne Pedro, a former Ralston Middle School student, has filed a civil lawsuit against the district, including claims of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and fraudulent concealment. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in San Mateo County Superior Court. Download the complaint here.

"They could have prevented it," Pedro said. "Maybe it would not have happened to me if they took more care."

Pedro said she remembers her life changing in 7th grade at Ralston in 2001. That's when she alleges the school janitor, Andre Edwards, sexually assaulted her on the Belmont campus.

At the time, police did not charge Edwards for the alleged crime. But in 2011, Belmont police contacted Pedro to revisit the case. Officers were investigating another student's claim against Edwards.

"I was like 'Oh my God, they finally believe me,'" Pedro said. "They believe somebody to take a second look at my case."

Students at Ralston Middle School started complaining about sexual abuse linked to Edwards in 1991 -- 10 years before Pedro said she was assaulted.

Also named in the lawsuit are the campus principal, district superintendent and other school officials who were at the district during the alleged assaults that were never reported to police, attorney Ryan Erickson said.

NBC Bay Area contacted Superintendent Michael Milliken seeking comment Thursday night, but the district official said he didn't have time.

Milliken in response to the lawsuit sent out a letter to the school district community, asking people to avoid jumping to conclusions.

Edwards plead no contest in 2013 to false imprisonment and child annoyance in connection with Pedro's case and a 2010 case. He was sentenced to 9 months in jail.

Pedro is not satisfied with the sentence, but relieved someone finally investigated her claims. She now wants the school district to admit they didn't do enough to prevent the alleged assaults.

"I want them to feel compassion for me and hope this doesn't happen to anyone else," Pedro said.

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