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School District Failed to Take Action After Decades of Abuse

The Gatti Law Firm

It’s estimated by RAINN that more than 75% of all rapes and sexual abuses go unreported to the police or to administrative officials. This is partially because victims are afraid of retaliation from their abuser, but it’s also because they fear those in power will do nothing.

For one former Salem woman, that exact fear was realized last year, when she heard on the news that her middle school teacher – and longtime sexual abuser— Shane Ross had been arrested for abusing yet another young teenage girl. Upon learning that the Salem-Keizer School District had continued to ignore the signs of her abuse and employ the perpetrator for decades, she was prompted to file a civil lawsuit, alleging that the district failed to protect both her rights and the rights of future students.

Ignoring Obvious Patterns of Abuse

Our Salem personal injury attorneys worked closely with the first victim of Mr. Ross, helping her file against the school district and examining her claims in-depth. What we discovered was an appalling lack of diligence on part of the school district to root out an obvious predator in their midst.

For more than 3 years spanning from 2001 to 2004, our client was systematically manipulated and controlled by Mr. Ross, who groomed her into performing sexual acts, and convinced the middle school-aged girl that she was in a loving adult relationship. Despite the fact that multiple teachers and school administrators reported their suspicions about the abuse, Salem-Keizer school faculty members never performed any meaningful investigation. Ultimately, our client moved on and left Salem behind her.

Then in 2017, police detectives investigated Mr. Ross for allegations that he sexually abused another young victim, starting from 2009 onwards. During the 2017 investigation, Mr. Ross was finally placed on administrative leave by the school, but for his two victims, it was too late to reverse the deep emotional trauma they sustained at his hands. Given the large time gap between the first and second victims, it’s likely that there are still others who have not come forward about their abuse.

Standing Up to Negligent Organizations

Mr. Ross was employed by the Salem-Keizer School District for more than 17 years before he was finally investigated for ongoing sexual abuse. At any point during that time, school officials could have taken the reports of victims and teachers to heart, or reported suspicious activity to the police – but they failed to do so.

When organizations fail to protect victims on this scale, civil lawsuits can hold them accountable and allow victims to get the peace they deserve. At The Gatti Law Firm, we represent those whose lives have been impacted by trauma, abuse, and serious accidents. By providing more than a century of legal experience and aggressive advocacy against abusers, we can fight on your behalf when you’ve been hurt.

Contact us today for a complimentary, no-obligation consultation on your personal injury case!

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