Chain | Cohn | Stiles files claims on behalf of 3 students who were victims of sexual misconduct at local high school

March 13, 2019 | 6:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles law firm has filed claims on behalf of three students who were victims of sexual misconduct at North High School.

Kern County Sheriff’s Office has arrested Edwin Rodriguez on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts with minors 14 to 15 years old, exhibiting harmful matter to a minor, annoying a child under 18 and false imprisonment. Local media reported 10 people came forward to investigators alleging inappropriate physical contact and other unwanted interaction by Rodriguez while he worked as an athletic equipment manager at North High School.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles, after speaking with victims and investigators, suspects there could be even more victims. According to the victims, Rodriguez would give students sodas and candy, befriend them on the social media, and send them sexually explicit photos and videos, among other sexual misconduct that took place over several years. One of the women is 19 years old, and the abuse first occurred when she was a sophomore in high school.

In one instance, Rodriguez sent a photo on Snapchat to two of the girls that showed him wearing shorts and a tank top and grabbing his penis. A number of text messages sent by Rodriguez to the girls told them he thought they were “hot” or commented on various parts of their body he found attractive.

Rodriguez “groomed” the victims, Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury attorney David Cohn, who is representing the victims and their families, told local media. To see full media coverage of the filing of the complaints and the arrest of Rodriguez, please see the links below.

The mother of one of the victims has also spoken out.

“This sick man manipulated my daughter. She and I are very close, but she felt she was doing something wrong and was afraid to tell me about it,” said the mother of one of the victims in a statement. “My hope through this lawsuit is to prevent this from happening in the future, and to protect our students through better accountability and scrutiny of school officials.”

Added Cohn: “We want to get to the bottom of how this went on for so long.”

“I think all the markers were out there,” Cohn told KGET-17. “It will be interesting to listen to the district’s explanation for why they didn’t do something sooner.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorneys and the parents of the victims advise other parents to talk to their children about boundaries with those authority.

“Take this opportunity to have a discussion with your teenager,” Cohn said. “Students should never have one-on-one conversations through social media or text messages with school personnel, coaches, or other adults in authority. And encourage them to speak up if someone in authority contacts them privately or crosses a line.”

Citing similar cases that have occurred in the past few years, Cohn told local media that a message must be sent to the school district that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated.

“A the end of the day, what really has an impact on the school district is getting hit in their pocketbook,” Cohn said.

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CLAIM FILING MEDIA COVERAGE

 

CRIMINAL CASE MEDIA COVERAGE

Attorney Neil Gehlawat, father give Delano high schools funding boost with generous donation

March 2, 2016 | 8:45 am


* Note: Neil Gehlawat is no longer an attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles *

Editor’s Note: Chain | Cohn | Stiles partner Neil Gehlawat and his father, Delano doctor Dilbagh Gehlawat, recently gave a more than generous donation to the Delano Joint Union School District, which was covered by local media. Below is the news release, with information about the donation and how it will help, followed by local media coverage. 

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The Delano Joint Union High School District has received a $100,000 donation from a Bakersfield family and Delano doctor to help provide after-school and weekend tutoring for high school students, mentors for nearby elementary students, scholarships, and a summer bridge program to help incoming high-schoolers succeed.

The donation was made by Dr. Dilbagh Gehlawat and son Neil Gehlawat, an attorney at Bakersfield law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles. Dr. Gehlawat, a pediatrician, has taken care of children in Delano and surrounding areas for the past 35 years.

“We anticipate this donation could potentially reach hundreds of students,” district Superintendent Terri Nuckols said in a statement.

Said the Gehlawats in a statement: “We believe that education is the great equalizer in our society. No child, regardless of their socio-economic background, should be denied access to educational opportunities that will have a positive impact on their future. Our hope is that this donation will help provide high school students in Delano with the resources and opportunities needed to pursue a college education after high school.”

The donation will allow for the following programs in Delano:

  • Provide after-school tutoring by student mentors for high school students. Funding would pay for teacher coaches, tutor training, and funding additional after-school programs.
  • Provide music consultants and high-achieving students to mentor elementary students in music, math and science, including those in nearby rural school districts in Earlimart and Pond. Many elective programs in these areas were discontinued with the budget cuts over the past several years. Funding would be used to provide tutors, pay music consultants, provide training and for transportation.
  • Provide funding for Saturday school tutorials for students with attendance issues. The program will allow students to make up course work that was missed due to absences.  Funding would pay for sessions at all sites, mentoring, tutoring and instructors.
  • Provide a summer bridge program for incoming freshmen to introduce them to the high school experience and beyond. The program sets a 10-year plan where students could potentially earn college credit while in high school.
  • Provide scholarships to mentors and tutors who successfully participate in any of the programs above.

Dilbagh and Neil Gehlawat were honored at a recent DJUHSD school board meeting. The Gehlawats accepted a plaque from the school district administration.

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MEDIA COVERAGE