A former student at Yuba City High School has filed a lawsuit against PE teacher Jim Whitaker and the Yuba City Unified School District. The suit alleges Whitaker improperly videotaped the girl's buttocks in 2014 during PE class and then showed it to other students.
The suit also claims the school district failed to protect students by not disciplining Whitaker after previous complaints of assault had been filed by students.
The Yuba City Police Department has not been named as a defendant but plaintiff attorney Michael Trezza is requesting information related to previous police reports and investigations against Whitaker. So far, the Yuba City Police Department has refused to comply with public records act requests for the same information. The lawsuit seeks damages.
Whiteaker is also a Sutter County Supervisor. He is on leave from his teaching job while a state panel investigates this and other allegations brought against the teacher in recent weeks. Roberto Marquez is Whiteaker’s attorney.
"The lawsuit has absolutely no merit," Marquez says.
According to Marquez, “Even if you believe the allegations, videotaping someone in public is not a crime.“ He also says that under Tort law the plaintiffs would not be able to recover any money. As far as the allegations that Whiteaker recorded the girls buttocks and lower body for sexual gratification, Marquez says “They will never be able to substantiate that.“
Marquez also says the lawsuit against the district must go through a process involving a grievance claim which he does not believe happened and he believes the statute of limitations has expired.
Whiteaker has not spoken publicly for several weeks but enlisted friends to speak on his behalf at the most recent school board meeting.
Marquez says that silence may be broken, and soon.
“His truth is his truth," Marquez says, "I believe in the truth of my client the truth can never hurt you he has been fileted in the media. He needs to have his voice heard.
The number of current and former students who have come forward with sexual assault or bullying complaints against Whiteaker is at least seven. Many former students say they filed complaints with Yuba City High School at the time, including two allegations of sexual assault in the late 1990's.
Says Trezza of any fallout in the last two decades from those complaints, "We are unaware of any discipline." The district is being sued for failure to protect students.
Crystal Bailey is the girl's mother. She had a statement read aloud during the last school board meeting. It said in part that Whiteaker admitted to taking the video to prove the girl had not dressed out for PE.
Bailey says Whiteaker claimed during a meeting she had with him that Principal Martin Ramirez and Vice Principal Eric Eklund ordered him to delete the video. Calls to Ramirez at his home and Eklund at Folsom High School where he is an assistant principal were referred to the Yuba City Unified School District.
Older complaints began coming out against Whiteaker after a 14-year-old girl reported Whiteaker grabbed her buttocks in January.
Whiteaker has stated he used his knee to break up what he thought was a fight.