Former student sues Hart District over sex abuse claims

The William S Hart Union High School District office. Dan Watson/The Signal
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A former Canyon High School student — who alleges he was sexually abused by a basketball coach now facing more than a dozen criminal sexual-assault charges — is suing the coach and the William S. Hart Union High School District.

Lawyers with the Los Angeles-based firm, Taylor & Ring, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the former student, now age 24, naming the district as defendant.

“We do not comment on litigation matters,” Hart district spokesman Dave Caldwell replied in an email Friday when reached for comment on the lawsuit and its claims.

Attorneys Dave Ring and Louanne Masry filed the lawsuit on behalf of the student — identified only as John Doe — against his school basketball coach Jeremy Haggerty, who they say sexually abused him over the course of four years.

The lawsuit also names the William S. Hart Union High School District for failing to intervene or report the abuse, despite having received numerous complaints that Haggerty engaged in repeated misconduct toward male, minor students.

“The school district and high school coaching staff were aware of Haggerty’s inappropriate behavior with John Doe, yet they allowed multiple years of abuse to continue,” Dave Ring, lead counsel in the case, was quoted as saying in a news release.

Emotional effects

“Sadly, our client will suffer emotional and physical effects for the rest of his life, and we intend to hold the school accountable for this,” he said.

Haggerty, according to the suit, quickly started grooming Doe by discussing adult topics under the guise of “sex education.”

The lawsuit also alleges Haggerty used an injury the boy had as an opportunity to take advantage of the plaintiff. The lawsuit also claims the coaching staff was made aware of Haggerty’s behavior, but nothing was done to address it.

In addition to coaching the freshman basketball team, Haggerty was assistant coach for the varsity team, which, the lawsuit alleges, was also an opportunity for the abuse to continue.

Sexual contact

During this time, the same lawsuit alleged, Haggerty continued to “wrap” the plaintiff, and the abuse escalated to massages and, eventually, sexual contact.

During the plaintiff’s senior year in 2013, a new varsity basketball coach was hired and, according to the student’s lawyers, Haggerty was finally dismissed from the boys’ basketball program.

In September 2018, Haggerty was criminally charged with committing sexual crimes on multiple boys, including John Doe, according to the former student’s lawyers.

Following the day-long preliminary hearing last week, Jeremy Andre Haggerty, now 34, who has worked at several SCV schools, was held to answer to 15 criminal charges filed against him.

He’s scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, Feb. 22, on charges of committing 15 sex crimes, including six counts of committing a lewd act upon a child, after he was held to answer for the charges filed against him.

Criminal charges

He faces eight counts of sexual battery, six counts of lewd act upon a child and one count of possession of child pornography, according to the amended complaint.

Sgt. Brian Hudson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Unit said at a news conference in September that detectives identified victims “going back as far as 2008.”

At the time of his arrest, Haggerty was living in Orange County and working at a school there.  

He is accused of sexually assaulting nine victims over the course of nearly a decade, who ranged in age between 14 and 17 years old.  

If convicted as charged, he faces up to 14 years in state prison.

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