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LAUSD Expert Claimed 9-Year-Old Sexual Assault Victim With A Low IQ Suffers Less
LAUSD's stomach-churning defense tactics in the courtroom are in the spotlight once again: court documents show that a psychologist hired by LAUSD testified that a 9-year-old who was repeatedly sexually assaulted wouldn't suffer as much because she had a low IQ.
This report comes from KPCC, the same outlet that recently reported an LAUSD attorney had argued in court that a middle-schooler could consent to sex with her teacher (that attorney was later fired by the district). The radio station now reports that Dr. Stan Katz, a psychologist with his own IMDb page, testified during a trial in May 2013 regarding the sexual assault of the young girl by a boy at her school. The girl has an IQ between 64 and 70. The boy, who was not developmentally disabled, assaulted her repeatedly at different locations around campus.
Her family sued the district, arguing that the girl was seriously traumatized and would require long-term therapy. Katz agreed that the girl would need therapy but he argued that the 9-year-old girl's low IQ offered a "protective factor" that would lessen the emotional repercussions of a sexual assault, according to court papers. The girl's attorney David Ring asked, "So because she may be less intelligent than a general education student, she's going to suffer less depression because of it?" Katz replied, "Very possible, yes."
It's not surprising that the LAUSD would want to stage a vigorous defense at trial. But besides the fact that this particular defense sounds callous and shameful for an institution entrusted to the care of children, a couple experts who spoke to KPCC said that it's wrong-headed from a psychological perspective. UC San Francisco psychiatrist Dr. Lynn Ponton told KPCC, "I have never seen developmental disability in a child that age used as a protective factor with respect to how they handle trauma. In fact developmental disability quite often puts them at risk for this type of trauma."
In any case, the jury didn't seem to buy the dubious theory. The jury awarded $1.4 million in damages, way more than the $10,000-$12,500 LAUSD argued she needed. Ring says jurors said they were "disgusted" by the expert witness' testimony in post-trial conversations.