SANTA CLARA — Mission College has agreed to pay $7.6 million to settle a lawsuit from a physically and mentally disabled woman that says the school failed to protect her from an instructor charged with raping and sexually assaulting her, according to the woman’s attorneys.
The plaintiff, whose name is withheld in a criminal complaint and is referred to as Jane Doe in her lawsuit, alleged that former instructor Raymond Lawrence Ruiz groomed her for as long as two years before an encounter where he took her to a campus restroom, pulled her off her wheelchair, and raped her.
“Imagine this young lady being wheeled into a restroom, knocked off, can’t do anything, and being so helpless,” said plaintiff attorney Mark Boskovich. “The assault itself is so egregious. It makes for a tragic story.”
On July 2, 2020, former Mission College contract instructor Raymond Ruiz, 68, of San Jose, was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a 25-year-old student he met through the Program for Students with Developmental Disabilities, Santa Clara police said.
Ruiz, a 71-year-old San Jose resident, was an instructor at the Santa Clara-based college’s defunct Program for Students With Developmental Disabilities, which was aimed at teaching students assorted life skills to help them live independently. According to the lawsuit and criminal charges, Doe is in her mid-to-late 20s and has cerebral palsy and cortical visual impairment, uses a wheelchair, and has the intelligence of a 13-year-old.
Ruiz was arrested in July 2020 and has been charged with rape, kidnapping and two other sexual assault counts, which also encompasses an allegation that after the reported rape — said to have occurred between December 2019 and March 2020, when the program was shut down for the COVID-19 pandemic — Ruiz sexually assaulted Doe in a campus shuttle van.
Doe’s lawsuit blames West Valley-Mission Community College District staff for repeatedly failing to report and respond to suspicious and sexually aggressive behavior by Ruiz, including a claim of inappropriate touching in 2016 that led to a student being pulled out of the program.
The suit, filed in September 2020, also claims that Ruiz’s wife, a co-director of the program, sought to cover up her husband’s actions by gaslighting victims and portraying them as liars to other students.
“We’re hoping this sends a message not only to the West Valley-Mission College district but the other districts that run these kinds of programs,” said Boskovich, whose law firm Corsiglia, McMahon and Allard specializes in school sexual abuse cases. “Hopefully this encourages (victims) and parents to say something, and encourage these college districts running these programs to make sure they’re doing the right things.”
Boskovich added, “They’re such a vulnerable population, you can manipulate them mentally and physically. My client was relegated to a wheelchair and had the mental capacity of a 13-year-old; you can see how a predator can use that against somebody.”
Ruiz is out of jail custody and his next scheduled court date is a trial-setting hearing on Oct. 19. His attorney and the community college …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News
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