Saturday, July 24, 2010

If gay teacher sexually molests student, school is primarily liable

A fourteen year old male student in one prominent Catholic school (name begins with "S") was sexually molested by a gay teacher.
The sexual molestation happened in the student’s bedroom while the teacher was conducting after-class tutorials.
The mother became uncomfortable when she noticed the child’s bedroom was locked while tutorial session were being conducted.
Mother’s instinct told her to command the house-helps to check from the window outside to see what was happening inside the bedroom.
The two house-helps came running back to the mother, shell-shocked as they actually witnessed the teacher’s mouth sucking the child’s penis while seated on the bed.
The teacher was reported to the police and was arrested and jailed.
The innocent child confessed that this had been happening several times already.
The mother’s question is whether the school---aside of course, from the teacher--- has any liability for what happened to the child.
The school was trying to explain to the mother that it had nothing to do with the incident because it happened outside the school premises.
Is the school correct?
The school can be held civilly liable, even if it was done outside the school premises.
The fact that the incident happened outside the school is even irrelevant.
Article 218 of the Family Code provides that the school, its administrators and teachers, shall have special parental authority and responsibility over the minor child while under their supervision, instruction or custody.
Authority and responsibility shall apply to all authorized activities whether inside or outside the premises of the school.
The school likewise can be liable under the civil code.
The teacher is under the employ of the school.
The civil code provides that employers (in this case, the school) shall be liable for the damage caused by their employees (the teacher) acting within the scope of their assigned tasks.
The clause “within the scope of their assigned tasks” includes those acts by the teacher-employee, in furtherance of the interests of the school.
The crucial question is whether or not the teacher was, at the time of the incident, performing act in furtherance of his mater’s business.
It can hardly be debated that, conducting tutorial lessons by the teacher, is something in furtherance of the schools interest of providing quality education.
The fact that the teacher was merely conducting after-class tutorials, and not classroom instruction, does not relieve the school of the burden of rebutting the presumption that there was negligence in the selection and supervision of its teachers.
The complainants, the parents of the child-victim, need only establish the existence of the employer-employee relationship between the school and the erring teacher.
Also the complainants merely need to prove that the teacher was in an act not for an independent purpose of his own (tutorial), but in furtherance of the business of the school.
However, what merely arises is a presumption of negligence on the part of the school.
The school can rebut this presumption by proving that it observed the proper diligence under the circumstances.
The civil code provides that the responsibility of the employer (school) shall cease when it proves that it observed the diligence of a good father of a family to prevent the damage.
The school’s proper diligence would mean diligence in the selection and supervision of its teachers.
Supervision includes formulation of suitable rules and regulation for the guidance of its teachers in conducting tutorials.
It also includes issuance of proper instructions intended for the protection of the public and persons with whom the school has contractual relations, through its teachers.
The school is expected to impose upon its employees the necessary discipline called for, in the performance of any act indispensable to the business and beneficial to the school.
If the school fails to rebut the presumption of negligence, the school will be primarily and solidarily liable with the teacher.
Needless to say, additionally, the teacher will be liable criminally under child abuse law (Republic Act 7610).
Imprisonment under the law ranges from 14 years to 40 years.
It is very important for parents to monitor the activities of their teenage children, even right in their own bedrooms.

No comments: