Crime

Family of AGHS student allegedly molested by teacher sues school district, principal

Former Arroyo Grande High School teacher Tara Stumph is accused of committing sexual acts with a male student. The student’s family filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Stumph, the Lucia Mar Unified School District and three district staffers.
Former Arroyo Grande High School teacher Tara Stumph is accused of committing sexual acts with a male student. The student’s family filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Stumph, the Lucia Mar Unified School District and three district staffers.

Complaints about former Arroyo Grande High School teacher Tara Stumph’s relationship with a minor were ignored by administrators, allowing the teacher to victimize another child — a 16-year-old student — a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges.

Stumph, 36, has been charged with two felony counts of oral copulation with a person under 18 and sexual intercourse with a minor, as well as three misdemeanor counts of molesting a child. She’s pleaded not guilty to all charges, and her criminal case is ongoing.

On Tuesday, family of the now-18-year-old male student Stumph is accused of having a sexual relationship with filed a lawsuit against the Lucia Mar Unified School District, Stumph, Arroyo Grande High School Principal Conan Bowers and two other school staffers for negligent hiring, supervision and training, as well as intentional infliction of distress and sexual harassment.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and attorneys’ fees, and represents just one side of the story. Lucia Mar spokeswoman Amy Jacobs said Tuesday the district had not yet been served with the lawsuit but it does not comment on ongoing litigation.

Investigators with the Arroyo Grande Police Department and the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office have released very few details in the case. But according to the lawsuit, the victim — who is not identified — was a student of Stumph’s.

The sexual abuse and exploitation of (the victim), and the circumstances under which it occurred, caused (him) to develop various psychological coping mechanisms which reasonably made him incapable of ascertaining that Stumph’s conduct was harmful to him.

Lawsuit filed Tuesday against Tara Stumph and Lucia Mar Unified School District

The lawsuit states that Stumph “cultivated” the victim’s trust over the period of several months and encouraged him to confide in her. The two began a sexual relationship that lasted from September 2014 to December 2015, the lawsuit alleges, when Stumph would molest the student “during and after class,” and send nude pictures and sexually explicit videos of herself to him.

The lawsuit further alleges that Stumph instructed another teacher at the school to call the victim out of his class on her behalf when some of the alleged crimes occurred.

But the lawsuit also alleges that Stumph sexually molested at least one other minor prior to her relationship with the victim, and that the school — including Principal Bowers, a guidance counselor and a teacher — had received “multiple” complaints about Stumph’s alleged conduct but failed to act.

“The sexual abuse and exploitation of (the victim), and the circumstances under which it occurred, caused (him) to develop various psychological coping mechanisms, which reasonably made him incapable of ascertaining that Stumph’s conduct was harmful to him,” the lawsuit reads.

Stumph had been a teacher at Arroyo Grande High School for five years when she was placed on leave in December 2015. The district has said that she no longer works there, but has not disclosed if she was fired.

A case management conference had not yet been scheduled in the civil case Tuesday. Stumph is due back in court for her criminal case next month.

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