Tuesday, April 07, 2009

K.J. v. Arcadia USD (Cal. Ct. App. - April 7, 2009)

Being in love is a sufficient excuse. Or, to put it as Justice Klein does:

"Under the delayed discovery doctrine, accrual of a cause of action is postponed until the plaintiff discovers, or has reason to discover, the cause of action. Here, K.J. alleged the perpetrator exploited her age of minority, vulnerability and confidence to seduce her into an unlawful and harmful sexual relationship, she believed she was in love with him and that he had done nothing wrong, and she lacked a real awareness that she had been victimized until July 2007, when she gained that insight through psychotherapy. These allegations are sufficient to invoke the delayed discovery rule of accrual."

It's a story, by the way, of a 15-year old student and a popular high school teacher in his 30s. One of whom (and you can guess which) was convicted and is spending a dozen years in prison.

The toughest part about this holding for me is the fact that the victim (1) confessed to her parents, (2) was no longer a minor at the time, (3) had the teacher arrested, and (4) still waited over a year (much longer than the applicable six-month period) to file her claim. That seems awfully long, and I strongly doubt that the victim was entirely "unaware" during this whole period that she had been psychologically effected by these events (a realization eventually "discovered" during therapy). Maybe the full impact only became clear later, but I feel pretty confident that the basic scoop always remained the same.

That said, it's a pleading case, at the demurrer stage, and that matters. At this stage, maybe it's right to let the case go forward. Though the final result maybe should diverge from what happens here.