Friday, January 24, 2014
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A second woman has come forward to claim that a California educator sexually abused her, saying she decided to speak out after watching a YouTube video by a woman who made similar accusations.
Police in Riverside are investigating the allegations from both women, who say former middle school teacher and administrator Andrea Cardosa abused them while they were students in Riverside County.
The second woman's attorney said Thursday he filed claims, a precursor to lawsuits, against two school districts where Cardosa worked.
The investigation and claims come days after a video was posted on YouTube showing the first woman confronting over the phone someone who identifies herself as Cardosa. Since then, Cardosa has resigned her job as an assistant principal and the video — which the woman sent to Cardosa's employer — has been viewed nearly 1 million times.
The AP has not been able to reach Cardosa. Messages left at phone numbers and email addresses linked to Cardosa have not been returned.
At a press conference on Thursday, the second woman, Brianna, told reporters that she watched the YouTube video on Saturday, and "it was like a trigger, like a flashback."
Brianna, who is now 18, says Cardosa befriended her mother while Brianna was a student at Tomas Rivera Middle School in Perris in 2010.
She then "groomed" Brianna by giving her movie tickets, candy bars and lunch trips and calling her special, then made several sexual advances, inappropriately touching her and abusing her, according to a copy of the claim filed against Val Verde Unified.
Brianna's lawyer Luis Carrillo said school officials failed to heed signs of an improper relationship between Cardosa and his client.
"They should seek another line of work if they fail to protect the kids," Carrillo said of school officials. "What we want is justice."
Both districts declined to comment on the claims.
Brianna said she came forward after watching the YouTube video posted by a now-28-year-old woman named Jamie. Both women asked to be identified by their first names, and the Associated Press is not using either woman's full name because they say they are victims of sexual abuse.
In the video posted on Friday, Jamie phones Alhambra High School. After being screened by two receptionists, she is connected to a woman who identifies herself as Cardosa.
Jamie does not give specifics of the alleged abuse in the video, which she says started when she was a 12-year-old student at Chemawa Middle School.
"You should be so ashamed and so disgusted with yourself," Jamie says.
"I am. I am," the woman says. "I regret it every day. Every day."
The video was sent to Alhambra High School, where Cardosa was an administrator. Alhambra Unified superintendent Laura Tellez-Gagliano said she called police before she even finished watching the video. Cardosa resigned her job later that day.
Tellez-Gagliano said Cardosa was hired in October after she passed criminal background checks and came with a clean record from her previous employer.
Cardosa worked at Riverside Unified from 1997 to 1999, said Jacquie Paul, a district spokeswoman. Cardosa held various teaching and administrative positions at Val Verde Unified from 2000 to 2004 and 2006 to 2013, said Chris Wynn, the district's chief of security.
Jamie said she came forward because her daughter is about the age she was when the abuse began and she wanted to prevent other kids from being molested. After posting the video, Jamie gave a news conference on Monday saying she had been sexually abused for years by the former teacher.
"She told me that she would embarrass me in front of my friends and family and tell them I'm a lesbian and that I did stuff with her," she said. "She really did make me believe the things that she had said to the point where I didn't know that it was wrong."
Jamie's lawyer, David Ring, said Jamie made "a spur of the moment decision" to call the woman after searching for her name on the Internet and discovering she still worked with children. Ring said he was exploring a possible lawsuit and said Jamie also hopes prosecutors will file criminal charges, though prosecutors would have to determine whether statute of limitations laws apply.
"She was incredibly bothered by the abuse for a long time," he told AP.
Taxin reported from Tustin.