Home Sexual Assault Cases New sexual assault accusation is made against SFUSD athletic director, who was allowed to quietly resign

New sexual assault accusation is made against SFUSD athletic director, who was allowed to quietly resign

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A second former student at a San Francisco public high school has accused the school’s then-athletic director of sexually abusing her on campus, as new records obtained by The Chronicle show the district was moving to fire the director — but instead allowed him to quietly resign.

In an amended complaint filed Thursday in an ongoing lawsuit, a woman identified as Jane Doe 2 says she was a sophomore at George Washington High School in the Richmond District when Lawrence Young-Yet Chan began targeting her in 2012.

The former student alleges that Chan repeatedly called her into his office to perform oral sex on him, according to the complaint, which seeks damages from Chan and the school district for physical and emotional harm. On one occasion, the lawsuit states, Chan asked the student to come to his office to “ice a sports injury,” but instead molested her in a storage room at the school.

Chan could not be reached for comment, and he has not formally responded to the lawsuit. He has not been charged criminally.

The San Francisco Unified School District did not respond Thursday to a request seeking comment about the second former student’s allegation.

The new accusation builds on a lawsuit filed last month by another student, who is identified as Jane Doe 1. She says the district failed to properly supervise Chan, who began engaging her in sexual intercourse and oral copulation on the school campus in 2014, when she was under 18.

After Jane Doe 1 reported the abuse to a college guidance counselor who notified police in 2017, the complaint states, San Francisco Unified School District officials allowed Chan “to quietly resign via a confidential settlement agreement.”

The August 2017 agreement, obtained by The Chronicle through a California Public Records Act request, shows that the school district had decided to terminate Chan’s employment after placing him on paid leave for three months and barring him from having contact with students while investigating Jane Doe 1’s allegations.

“Our investigation concluded that Mr. Chan violated the District’s Board Policy on Professional Boundaries, BP 4019.1,” a school district spokesperson, Laura Dudnick, said in an email to The Chronicle last week. The policy outlines appropriate and inappropriate forms of “physical affection” between students and staff.

However, documents show that the district allowed Chan to resign in lieu of firing him. He waived his right to sue the school district or to seek employment or another professional relationship within it. Chan also agreed not to request any employment references or recommendations from the district in the future.

In exchange, the district said it would not disclose the contents of Chan’s personnel file unless required to “by subpoena, judicial or administrative order, other legal processes or official request, or where authorized in writing by Mr. Chan.” San Francisco Unified also agreed to pay Chan for any accrued vacation time, as well as for 30 hours of time off he had accrued in spring 2017.

Dudnick said the compensation was for time off Chan had earned prior to being placed on leave. She declined to answer questions about Chan’s salary and compensation history. A public records request for this information was pending as of Thursday.

According to Transparent California, Chan received about $57,350 in salary and benefits from the school district in 2016 for performing campus security and athletics jobs.

The Chronicle tried to speak with Chan by phone, by email and at an address listed for him on the San Francisco police report documenting the allegations made by Jane Doe 1. A reporter also contacted United Educators of San Francisco, the teachers union, as well as the law firm that represented Chan in the settlement agreement. He could not be reached.

Lauren Cerri, the attorney for the former students, said Chan has not responded to the allegations in the lawsuit, which was originally filed Aug. 26. Cerri said Jane Doe 2 contacted her after reading news articles about Jane Doe 1’s allegations.

“She gained strength from the other former student to speak out,” Cerri said. “His abuse of multiple victims on school grounds shows nobody was watching him.”

Dudnick disputed the lawsuit’s characterization of the settlement agreement as a means of concealing the allegations. But she declined to say why the agreement prohibited Chan from listing the district as a reference, citing the confidentiality of settlement negotiations. She also would not say whether the district would have specifically divulged the student’s allegations if contacted by a prospective employer of Chan.

“It is inappropriate for us to comment on a hypothetical situation,” Dudnick said. “The District recognizes and is committed to our legal obligation to disclose personnel information, upon request, including information about well-founded allegations of misconduct.”

Dudnick said Chan did not have a documented history of similar allegations of misconduct before the 2017 allegation.

Chan, who would have been 27 years old in 2014, had been athletic director at George Washington High since 2010, according to portions of his employment record obtained by The Chronicle.

The record suggests San Francisco Unified first hired Chan as a girls basketball coach at Presidio Middle School in 2005, when he was 18.

In addition to his security work at George Washington High, Chan previously held a campus security position at Francisco Middle School. In a 2012 application to the middle school, Chan also reported that he had also been employed as a “Recreation Leader” with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

Daniel Montes, a spokesperson for the Recreation and Park Department, confirmed that Chan “is currently an as-needed employee for Rec and Park and he last worked in February 2020.” Montes provided an employment history for Chan, whose current job description is “Recreation Leader II,” dating back to 2004. But he declined to answer questions about whether Chan had faced any complaints and related investigations while working for the agency.

A recreation leader, level II, “is responsible for delivery of recreation programs and activities. May also be responsible for the set up and take down of tables and chairs and occasional janitorial tasks; and performs related duties as required,” according to job descriptions provided by the agency. Data from the S.F. Controller’s Office shows that Chan made about $836 in 2020 working for the Recreation and Park Department.

In their lawsuit, the former George Washington students say Chan began grooming them in 2012. The suit alleges Chan bought them lunch and other gifts, gave them rides to and from school, allowed them to drive his car and touched them while “stretching their bodies (including their legs and thighs and/or in between their legs) on school grounds, taking female students including Jane Doe 2 out to dinner, and having each plaintiff alone with him on school grounds including on the weekend with respect to Jane Doe 1.”

Jane Doe 2, who was around 16 at the time, did not report Chan’s abuse because she was scared that “Chan’s brother would harm her,” according to the complaint. The lawsuit alleges that Chan introduced Jane Doe 2 to his brother, “representing that his brother was a gang member that sex trafficked minor females.”

The complaint does not identify Chan’s brother, and The Chronicle was unable to reach him for comment.

Jane Doe 1 alleges that, beginning in 2014, Chan isolated her by asking a teacher to excuse her from class to report to his office. He would then take her to the football locker room and sexually assault her before sending her back to class, according to the lawsuit.

Despite finding it odd that Jane Doe 1 would be excused from class, the lawsuit states, the teacher still allowed her to leave class “and took no action to report it.” The complaint does not identify the teacher.

The police report that was eventually filed regarding Jane Doe 1’s allegations did not result in a criminal case. A representative with the San Francisco Police Department declined to provide further information.

Chan was not a credentialed teacher with the state’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which can take action to revoke credentials, according to a commission representative.

“We took every step to investigate and respond to this matter within the scope of our jurisdiction,” Dudnick said. “SFUSD takes allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse very seriously. We strongly encourage all students who are victims or observers of harassment to make a report.”

Paul Nicholas Boylan, an attorney who has represented school districts and media organizations throughout California and specializes in records-access laws, reviewed the settlement agreement and district responses upon request of The Chronicle.

Boylan said the contract “on its face” presented a number of barriers to future employers who might seek to learn about Chan’s time in the San Francisco school district. However, he said that school districts, by law, are allowed to reveal information related to well-founded allegations of misconduct against employees, and that San Francisco Unified appeared to be clarifying to The Chronicle that nothing in the settlement agreement barred them from doing that with Chan.

“In my opinion, what they are saying is, ‘Yes,’ if a legitimate request is made, they would turn that information over,” Boylan said.

Advocates have long pushed to end severance agreements between school districts and employees that inhibit the disclosure of information related to child abuse and sexual misconduct, arguing that it puts children at risk because future employers are less likely to learn about egregious or abusive behavior.

Yet recent attempts to pass state legislation that would ban these types of settlements, and require prospective school district employees to disclose prior findings of misconduct, have failed in the face of opposition from teacher’s unions, among other groups.

“It’s downright immoral,” said former Republican State Sen. Mike Morrell of San Bernardino County, who introduced two such bills in 2018 and tried again in 2019. “To give a person a pass like that is beyond me.”

San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Susie Neilson (she/her) contributed to this report.

Cynthia Dizikes is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: cdizikes@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @cdizikes

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