Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Lake Forest Montessori School After 13-Year-Old Boy Preyed Upon and Abused There for Years

Female Teacher Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

(CHICAGO: Feb. 21, 2018) – Law firms Tomasik Kotin Kasserman in Chicago and Taylor & Ring in Los Angeles filed suit today against the elite, private Montessori School of Lake Forest and its former teacher Celina Montoya for the sexual abuse of a young male student.

The complaint states that Montoya began “grooming” the boy, identified as John Doe, for a sexual relationship when he was 13 years old and entering 8th grade, manipulating his emotions and taking advantage of him, so she could ultimately engage in a sexual relationship with him. As the relationship escalated, over the course of several years, Montoya began sending sexually explicit text messages to John, including nude photos, as well as hugging and kissing him on school campus during and after school hours. The school failed to have an on-site administrator monitoring the campus at all times. Further, Montoya knew John was suicidal, yet failed to report it to the administration or his parents.

“Montessori School of Lake Forest holds itself as a top-notch private school with the best teachers, the safest environment and a high student-to-teacher ratio that makes it ideal for learning,” said Taylor & Ring partner and co-counsel Dave Ring, who is a staunch advocate of protecting children in schools. “Yet, during John’s time as a student, it’s clear that supervision fell well below the standard of care, allowing Montoya to sexually abuse John for many years.”“There were ample warning signs that Montoya had an inappropriate relationship with John,” added co-counsel Dan Kotin, a partner at Tomasik Kotin Kasserman in Chicago. “The school has a duty to protect their students, and Montoya’s behavior went unchecked for years, which is a blatant disregard for the victim’s well-being.”

In January 2016, Montoya was convicted and sentenced to four years in state prison for her criminal misconduct towards John.

Case Background

During the 2011-2012 school year, Montoya was an instructor at the Montessori School of Lake Forest, Blue House campus, when John entered the 8th grade. During this time, Montoya engaged in inappropriate conversations with John on campus, including telling him that they would get married one day and that she loved him, as well as regularly kissing and hugging John. Montoya was also constantly sending John sexually inappropriate text messages.

The Montessori School of Lake Forest was required to have a full-time, on-site administrator whenever a student or teacher were present; however, the school failed to provide adequate supervision, which Montoya exploited. Despite ample signs of the inappropriate relationship, no action was taken.

During the Spring of 2013, concerns about Montoya’s relationship with John were brought to the school’s attention. Shortly afterwards, Montoya confessed that the student had confided to her that he was depressed and suicidal and that she purposely did not report it. Rather than immediately dismiss Montoya from her position at the school, administrators allowed her to finish out the school year, where she continued her relationship with John. John finally told his parents about the abuse perpetrated by Montoya, and as a result, an investigation was launched, leading to Montoya’s arrest and prosecution. In January 2016, Montoya was convicted and sentenced to four years in state prison for her criminal misconduct towards the student.

This civil suit seeks compensation for John Doe for the abuse he suffered as a result of Montoya’s conduct and the school’s negligence.

Click here to view the lawsuit.

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