LAUSD Again Fires Lawyer Who Blamed Teen For Having Sex With Teacher
Never mind, everyone. The attorney who argued on behalf of L.A. Unified School District that a 14-year-old girl was somewhat to blame for having sex with a teacher twice her age will ultimately not be getting his gig with the district back. W. Keith Wyatt was canned by LAUSD in November of last year after making comments to KPCC about a 14-year-old girl's ability to consent to sex with her adult male teacher. His firm, Ivy, McNeill & Wyatt, was re-hired last month for five upcoming cases. However, in the face of backlash, LAUSD has fired Wyatt once again, the L.A. Times reports. While Wyatt will not be involved in any future LAUSD cases, it's not clear if LAUSD will continue to use other attorneys from the same firm. The district has worked with the firm for 28 years.
The case involved former LAUSD teacher Elkis Hermida, who was sentenced to three years in prison in 2011 for carrying on a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old female student, identified in court documents as "M.S." Hermida was 28 years old at the time. Though 18 is always the age of consent in a criminal case, it's not so in a civil case. LAUSD attorneys repeatedly argued against a civil suit filed by the girl’s family in 2013, saying that the girl consented to the sex and therefore was partly to blame.
"Making a decision as to whether or not to cross the street when traffic is coming, that takes a level of maturity and that's a much more dangerous decision than to decide, 'Hey, I want to have sex with my teacher,'" Wyatt told KPCC last November.
LAUSD lawyers also tried to bring up the girl's sexual history outside of Hermida, and tried to use the fact that she knew what the slang term "quickie" meant as evidence that she was not "a naïve person," according to The Atlantic. Wyatt also argued something more reasonable in court—that the district had no way of knowing about Hermida's behavior and therefore, was not liable.
A jury ultimately decided in LAUSD's favor. However, a court of appeal decided last month that there would be a new trial because the judge should not have allowed the jury to assign any blame to the student, and because of the admission of her sexual history in court.
The girl's lawyer, Holly Boyer, argued that Hermida had groomed the girl for abuse, first reaching out to her via social media when she was 13, then steering the conversations to sex. He eventually kissed her in his classroom before moving their encounters to nearby motels.
"People in positions of authority use their position to build relationships of trust and slowly introduce sex to get the child to acquiesce. To then point to the child and say 'you let it happen' is really crazy," Boyer said.