A private Long Beach school and a former Seal Beach camp owner were named as defendants in a lawsuit filed Monday that alleges sexual abuse of a minor and seeks unspecified damages.
The plaintiff, identified only as 23-year-old Stephen W., filed the lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court names Scott Durzo and the Westerly School of Long Beach, which offers elementary and middle school education, as the defendants.
The suit claims sexual abuse of a minor, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
Patrick Brown, head of the Westerly School, said today he had not seen the lawsuit. However, he said the school takes such allegations seriously and will respond appropriately after the complaint is served.
The now 50-year-old Durzo, who founded the long-running Seal Beach-based Scott Durzo’s Total Sport Camp, is awaiting a separate trial in Orange County Superior Court on 20 counts alleging lewd acts with a child. The suit was also brought by Stephen W. and family.
The counts include sodomy, displaying pornography to a minor and a sentencing enhancement allegation for substantial sexual conduct with a child, according to a joint 2014 press release from the Orange County District Attorney's Office and the Seal Beach Police Department. He was arrested in May 2014.
Courtesy of Westerly School of Long Beach.
The lawsuit states Durzo was director of Westerly’s after-school sports program during the 2008-2009 school year. Durzo supervised the plaintiff who worked as an assistant in the program, according to the complaint.
Durzo began “grooming” Stephen in the fall of 2008 by showering him with gifts and personal favors, the suit alleges. Durzo’s goal was to “get Stephen W. to trust him so he could then sexually exploit, manipulate and abuse him,” the plaintiff alleges.
The suit alleges that Westerly teachers and administrators began commenting on the “inappropriate amount of time” Durzo was spending with the plaintiff both on and off campus, but did not investigate the relationship.
Stephen, then 16 years old and having difficulties in his personal life, was vulnerable as Durzo increased his “touchy, feely” behavior to outright sexual molestation, the lawsuit alleges.
The number of times the defendant abused the plaintiff are “too numerous to count, but averaged several times per week,” according to the complaint, which does not state where the alleged molestations occurred.
The alleged abuses stopped when the plaintiff left his job at the school at the end of the 2008-09 school year, the suit says.
According to the suit, Durzo was not rehired for the next school year, possibly because other complaints against him surfaced concerning other minors. The plaintiff says he did not tell anyone until he confided in his parents in 2014.
They reported what their son told them to Seal Beach police, who attached a wireless microphone to Stephen during a meeting with Durzo in which his former supervisor admitted sexually abusing him, the suit alleges.
Durzo was also a former basketball coach at Los Alamitos High School.
Top left: Photo courtesy of the Seal Beach Police Department.
City News Service contributed to this report.
This story was updated at 6:00PM with a comment from school officials.