School officials failed to notice Lakewood High teacher grooming student for abuse, lawsuit says

A former student has sued the Long Beach Unified School District alleging administrators at Lakewood High School should have noticed a teacher was grooming her to be molested.

The lawsuit centers around Mary Jahn, a 53-year-old woman who taught English at Lakewood High until last year when a former student accused Jahn of sexually abusing her.

In court, the female student testified Jahn noticed her in class and the two began having sex when the girl was 15.

The abuse continued for three years, according to the student, who said Jahn introduced her to bondage and even carved her initials into the student’s hip, according to the Press-Telegram.

Last month, Jahn pleaded no contest to one count of lewd acts upon a child and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Soon after, on Dec. 5, the student filed a civil lawsuit against Jahn and the school district.

The student was kept anonymous in court records, but her attorney, Stephen Estey, confirmed it was the same woman who made the criminal allegations against Jahn.

Mary Jahn is led away in handcuffs after her sentencing in Long Beach November 30, 2018. Photo by Thomas R Cordova.

Mary Jahn is led away in handcuffs after her sentencing in Long Beach November 30, 2018. Photo by Thomas R Cordova.

The lawsuit names Jahn, Lakewood High’s principal, vice principal and the school district as defendants.

It alleges school officials were negligent in protecting the student, who was repeatedly allowed to skip out on classes to spend time alone with Jahn in her classroom. The sheer number of times the student missed class to be with Jahn should have raised red flags, according to the lawsuit.

If administrators had done their job properly, they could have noticed the grooming and been able to prevent the sexual abuse, according to the lawsuit, which asks for unspecified damages.

During Jahn’s criminal case, the student testified she was abused from 2008 to 2011 but remained close with Jahn after she turned 18, even going on trips with Jahn, her wife and their two kids.

The former student reported the abuse in 2017, and Jahn was arrested in September that year, according to authorities.

Prosecutors said they weren’t able to find any other students who alleged Jahn abused them. Jahn’s criminal-defense attorney said her former students were ready to testify on her behalf about the “many wonderful things” she’d done for them, but she decided to take a plea agreement instead.

The school district didn’t immediately respond to messages left Wednesday.

Editor’s note: This story was updated Thursday morning with information from the student’s attorney.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children, Paul and Simon.