Monte Antonio Reed made the 14-year-old student in his freshman social studies class feel special. By her sophomore year, they were having sex in his classroom at Cosumnes Oaks High School in Elk Grove, according to a civil lawsuit filed in Sacramento Superior Court this week.
The complaint says that Reed had sex with the girl during the 2016-17 school year and attempted to groom her younger sister and cousin while they were students at the high school.
Reed, 40, was arrested in September and has been charged with five felony counts for alleged sex acts with the girl. He also has been charged with molesting two other 15-year-old girls in 2016, both of whom are unrelated to the other victim.
The Sacramento Bee is withholding the name of the girl and her parents because she is an alleged victim of sex crimes.
“He was her teacher in ninth grade. She really liked him,” said the mother in a tear-filled interview. “He would always encourage her to do better in class. He took a special interest in her and she liked the way he taught the class.”
The girl and others from the basketball team he coached would hang out in his classroom during lunch, said the mother. “She said he was cool. I thought, this is an awesome teacher who really values education and really wants to make a difference.”
Then her daughter stopped talking about Reed. In retrospect, her mother thinks that could have been a sign that something had changed in that relationship.
The family filed suit this week on behalf of the girl who allegedly had sex with Reed, as well as her sister and cousin. They seek financial damages against Reed for sexual battery and inflicting emotional distress on the three girls. They also ask for damages from the district for negligent supervision of the teacher and students, as well as for failure to warn, train and educate students and staff about predators.
The criminal case pending in Sacramento Superior Court lays out alleged events in stark terms. It says Reed allegedly had sex twice and twice engaged in oral copulation with the 15-year-old. He also is suspected of penetrating the child with a foreign object.
He was released on $50,000 bail in November and is scheduled to return to court Jan. 29.
The civil case says Reed also sexually harassed the family’s younger daughter when she was a freshman in his class, asking her for a massage, calling her “Sunshine,” and telling her that she and her sister were his favorites, according to the lawsuit.
The cousin allegedly faced the same treatment beginning her sophomore year in 2013. Reed reportedly called her “sweetie” and told her she smelled good. He became more aggressive by the time she was a senior, touching her on the inner thigh, holding her hands and leaning in to try to kiss her before she pulled away, according to the suit.
Reed pulled the girls out of other classes individually when he knew no one else would be present and used that time to attempt to groom them and eventually have sex with the oldest daughter, according to the suit.
The plaintiffs allege the school district failed to protect children despite repeated incidents of molestation in the district, according to the complaint. They cite six other reported cases of sexual abuse by district employees over a 15-month period between February 2016 and May 2017.
“The words ‘the safety of the children is our top priority’ are pretty hollow based upon what we see in their conduct,” said Roger Dreyer, attorney for the family. “And in this district in particular, with their litany of sexual abuse and offensive conduct by employees that has happened over the course of time. Clearly something isn’t being done there. They aren’t paying attention at all.”
Reed was a teacher at Cosumnes Oaks from 2013 to April 2017, when he was placed on administrative leave. District spokeswoman Xanthi Pinkerton said she does not have information about whether Reed taught in the district before his time at Cosumnes Oaks.
He was placed on administrative leave after school officials learned about the alleged sex acts from two of the girl’s friends in April. Parents were notified the next day, according to the district.
The district has not been served with a copy of the lawsuit, Pinkerton said Wednesday. School board president Nancy Chaires-Espinoza did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday.
This is the second lawsuit filed this month against Elk Grove Unified by parents of students who allegedly were sexually abused by district employees. On Jan. 4, parents of three children victimized by Eric Ernest Echols when he worked as a teacher’s aide at Prairie Elementary School sued Echols, the district and five school employees.
Echols, 30, was sentenced to 11 years in prison last month for molesting seven girls at the Sacramento school between June 2015 and July 2016. He pleaded no contest in Sacramento Superior Court to seven counts, including six felonies, for lewd and lascivious acts against children younger than 14.
The mother said it has been a difficult year for her family. She learned most of what she knows about the details of the abuse from her niece and the attorney, because her daughter doesn’t want to talk to her about it.
“It’s hard, a struggle,” said the mother. “She is so young and this was her first experience with something like this – an intimate relationship – and for it to be with a teacher, someone you trust and has this authority ... It’s a struggle and I’m not sure how it will impact her down the road.”