A former San Jose teacher accused of sexual misconduct -- and then cleared -- has sued the former students who accused him.
A former gym teacher, accused of inappropriately touching 11-year-old girls at a San Jose Catholic school, has been cleared of misconduct and wrongdoing.
But he lost his job and, he claims, his reputation. And now he's going on the offensive: He has filed a defamation lawsuit against the girls who accused him and their parents, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
John Fischler was accused of touching a girl's buttocks while teaching her to do squats in 2009, and of poking his head into a girl's bathroom and staring at his young charges when they were changing, the newspaper reported.
He was put on "paid leave for sexual misconduct" by the school until investigations by police and the school cleared him.
There were no other witnesses to corroborate the alleged buttocks-touching incident -- which was determined to be a touching of the hips when instructing -- and it was determined that he knocked on the girl's bathroom door to quiet "shrieking" that was disrupting a nearby class, the newspaper reported.
After he was accused of being a "pervert," he never felt his reputation was restored -- leading to the lawsuit. However, the suit may have other impacts, the newspaper reported.
Experts say that Fischler's lawsuit may have a chilling effect on victims of actual abuse: "80 to 90 percent of victims are too cowed to come forward," said Paul A. Mones, an attorney and children's rights advocate.
Attorneys for the students and their parents say the girls were merely actng "like junior high girls," the newspaper reported. However, the junior high girls landed their former teacher on the California Abuse Central Index as well as the unemployment line.