Inside L.A.'s Teacher-Student Sex Abuse Scandal

Photo: Allen J. Schaben/Getty Images.
It's been well documented that sexual assault is a crime that often goes unreported and, therefore, unpunished. But, there is a case brewing in L.A that proves that it's never too late for justice. What started with a personal essay published on xoJane has turned into a felony case against L.A. teacher Joseph Koetters, and a new lawsuit against him and his former employer, Marlborough School. 

In case you haven't been following the story, let's get you up to speed. Back in June 2014, Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie wrote an essay for xoJane's "It Happened To Me" series, in which she details the sexual advances that Koetters, her former high school teacher, made toward her. She reports that she told Marlborough School — a prestigious all-girls prep school in the Hancock Park area of L.A. — about the incidents at the time, but that the administration's response was minimal.

She goes on to explain that he was not fired, but only required to undergo counseling. "This is the first time I’ve told this story publicly, and I’m sorry there’s not a more satisfying ending," she writes. "Some things just leave you feeling empty."
Nearly a year later, her story is well on its way to finding a proper ending. After her essay was published, another former Marlborough student decided to pursue sexual abuse charges against Koetters, resulting in his arrest in February. The victim, now 30 years old, alleges that she had a miscarriage after becoming pregnant with Koetters' child when she was in high school.

This week, BuzzFeed News reported on a civil lawsuit filed by the latter victim against both Koetters and Marlborough School. "The lawsuit alleges that Marlborough hired Koetters even though it knew he had been accused of misconduct while employed at two other private schools, [and] failed to investigate at least two student complaints against him during his 14 years at Marlborough," Katie J.M. Baker writes. The lawsuit claims that the school chose not to fire him, and instead actually helped him find a job at a different private school by giving him an "excellent reference."

The lawsuit also asserts that the school wouldn't have investigated the allegations had they not circulated in the media. Meanwhile, with the new lawsuit pending, Koetters is currently free on $140,000 bail after pleading not guilty.

We'll be following this case closely as the lawsuit unfolds. Hopefully, stories like this help encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward — no matter when the incidents occurred.