LOS ANGELES – The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $8 million to a teenager who was sexually abused by the athletic director at her Catholic high school, who continued to work despite prior allegations of misconduct, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
The award is the highest individual LA archdiocese settlement in a sex abuse case, the Los Angeles Times said.
Juan Ivan Barajas repeatedly abused the 15-year-old girl and eventually kidnapped her, according to court documents, taking her to Las Vegas in 2016 after his wife discovered evidence of the abuse on his cellphone. He was a health teacher and athletic director at San Gabriel Mission High School.
After five days on the run, Barajas was arrested and the girl was rescued.
Barajas, who is now 38, pleaded guilty to felony statutory sexual seduction and was sentenced to six years in prison.
The archdiocese did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment.
Records show that before the 2016 incident, Barajas was the subject of repeated misconduct allegations involving other female students.
Among the previous accusations were anonymous letters sent to school officials in 2015 describing alleged misconduct by Barajas. One sent to Monsignor Sal Pilato, the assistant superintendent of high schools for the archdiocese, said: "He takes the ones he likes to the office."
The victim, who is now 18, is emotionally scarred and continues to suffer panic attacks and flashbacks, according to court records.
The archdiocese has paid out more than $740 million in sexual abuse settlements over the last 15 years.
Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/