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An 'us' versus 'them' mentality when it comes to sexual misconduct reports, attorney says

Marquee out front of Hamilton High
Marquee out front of Hamilton High
Tony Pierce / KPCC

An attorney representing alleged victims of former Hamilton High teacher Vance Miller says the district should do more to investigate claims of abuse, rather than challenge the credibility of those who come forward.

Miller was fired by the school board today after allegations of sexual misconduct with students. He and LAUSD have also both been named in a second civil lawsuit that was filed today charging sexual battery and negligence.

Miller was not available for comment. Attorney Drew Antablin, who the district hired to represent Miller, according to district documentation, said that he did not have a chance to review the second suit. Antablin did say, however, that he believes the alleged victim was or is a friend of the first alleged victim. Both alleged victims are men in their 30s now.

"Apparently [this second alleged victim], too, had an approximate 12 to 13 year memory lapse about these things that supposedly happened to him as a high school teenager," Antablin said. "Mr. Miller denies any claimed wrongful conduct and denies all of the plaintiff's claims."

Antablin said he had no comment on the board action to fire Miller.

Anthony De Marco, an attorney for the alleged victims, said the district had created a "culture of permissiveness" that had allowed Miller's actions to go unreported. De Marco said the two alleged victims did not know each other personally, but had overlapped as students at the school.

De Marco said the district should be investigating the allegations of sexual misconduct instead of hiring attorneys to take "pot shots" at people coming forward.

"There's an 'us' versus 'them' mentality," De Marco said. "If a teacher suspected a child was being abused by a family member or someone at the home, an immediate report would have been made...but if there is a suspicion a teacher is abusing students, fellow teachers are very reluctant, it's very rare you see the mandated reports. Instead of questioning the memory of one victim, why aren't they investigating?"

Educators are required by law to notify law enforcement officials or the Department of Children and Family Services if they believe a child is being abused.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).