December 10, 2023

For Justin McGregor, the emotional trauma from being molested by his sixth-grade trainer in Moreno Valley 27 years in the past makes it troublesome even now to explain what he’s enduring as an grownup.

“I battle every day with my signs of PTSD, there’s plenty of occasions which are fairly triggering for me, and I battle in my relationships, and uh …” stated McGregor, 38.

Justin McGregor, left, 38, stands alongside his legal professional, Spencer Lucas, throughout a press convention exterior of the Riverisde County Court docket Home in downtown Riverside on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. A jury awarded $135 million on Oct. 10 to Brady Blair and Justin McGregor, who as youngsters within the 1990’s, have been sexually assaulted by sixth grade trainer Thomas Lee West at Vista Heights Center Faculty in Moreno Valley. (Picture by Will Lester, Inland Valley Each day Bulletin/SCNG) 

What are these triggers? he was requested.

“Umm …” McGregor stated earlier than pausing.  “Why don’t we skip that query?” his legal professional, Spencer Lucas, interjected.

McGregor and one other sufferer, Brady Blair, additionally 38, appeared with Lucas in downtown Riverside in entrance of the Historic Courthouse on Wednesday, Oct. 11, to debate the $135 million {that a} jury there awarded the lads the day gone by after a trial on a lawsuit filed in 2021. Jurors discovered the Moreno Valley Unified Faculty District 90% liable ($121.5 million) and the perpetrator, Thomas Lee West, 10% liable ($13.5 million).

The lawsuit sought unspecified financial and non-economic damages.

The lawsuit stated the varsity district knew that West had been accused of molesting youngsters years earlier than McGregor and Blair have been sexually assaulted starting in 1996 till their sophomore years in highschool, but did nothing to cease him. Court docket data present that West was charged with 10 felony counts in 1993 after authorities stated he molested a foster little one in his care. West ultimately pleaded responsible to a single depend of kid endangerment and was sentenced to 120 days in jail.

West saved his job with the district.

“The district swept it underneath the rug,” Lucas stated. “Not as soon as, not twice, however extra occasions than that. Mr. West ought to have been terminated by that time in 1996. However the district enabled him. The negligence, it’s catastrophic, it’s overwhelming, and the jury noticed the reality.”

The college district’s attorneys argued in a court docket submitting that district officers have been unaware of West’s actions and weren’t chargeable for something completed exterior the scope of an worker’s duties.

“The Moreno Valley Unified Faculty District deeply regrets what occurred to those people. Though it occurred underneath a earlier administration over 27 years in the past, the district understands the lifelong affect of those traumatic experiences,” Anahi Velasco, a district spokeswoman, stated Wednesday. “The district is aware of that it might probably by no means undo the previous, the harm and anguish suffered by these people. We actually hope they proceed to get better from these incidents.”

Velasco described the decision as “unprecedented” and that the district was weighing its subsequent motion. She referred different questions, together with why West remained employed by the district after his little one endangerment conviction, to the district’s attorneys. They might not be reached for remark Wednesday.

The insurance coverage coverage that can cowl the decision is the one which was in place on the time of the act, Velasco stated. That was within the Nineteen Nineties, when the district was self-insured and had a coverage that coated losses akin to these from fires. She stated the coverage will cowl solely 11% of the district’s share of the decision, or about $13.4 million.

It wasn’t instantly clear the place the cash would come from or how the lack of it will have an effect on youngsters’s training.

West, 68, was criminally charged in 2003 with sexually assaulting McGregor and Blair. Throughout that case, the Riverside County District Legal professional’s Workplace stated in a court docket submitting that prosecutors believed West molested 4 different youngsters from about 1987 to 1992 however didn’t file prices in these instances.

In response to that submitting, one of many 4 different boys was sexually abused whereas sleeping in a motel mattress with West whereas on a visit to Arizona. One other was a pupil of West’s at Honey Hole Elementary in Moreno Valley. A 3rd was a foster little one who, when he started relationship his future spouse, incurred the anger of West. And a fourth was one other foster little one who was ordered to bathe with West however inform nobody “as a result of they wouldn’t perceive.”

West was convicted within the 2003 case of eight counts of lewd acts underneath a baby underneath 14 years previous and one depend of aggravated sexual assault on a minor by pressure. He’s serving a sentence of 52 years to life in state jail.

The choose in that case, Patrick F. Magers, stated he discovered no mitigating elements in West’s favor.

“20 years plus as a trainer was an apparent scheme to domesticate his plan for his sexual wishes,” Magers stated, in keeping with the minutes of the sentencing listening to. “The court docket is shocked that he was allowed to be a foster mum or dad. He violated the belief and confidence. He taught youngsters issues that youngsters shouldn’t be taught. He was the trainer of evil.”

Lucas stated West saved his maintain on McGregor and Blair by threatening them with violence. He additionally put in trackers on their pc keyboards that allowed him to watch who they chatted with and which web sites they visited.

McGregor stated Wednesday that he hopes different victims of comparable crimes will report them.