Lawsuit alleges that the school placed the reputation of its award-winning track team ahead of victimized track athletes
The Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District and two former track coaches are being sued by a former student who says Los Gatos High School allowed Chioke "Chee" Robinson to sexually abuse her for more than three years, starting when she was a freshman on the Girls’ Track Team.
The lawsuit, filed today in Santa Clara County Superior Court, identifies the student as Jane Doe. It states that starting at age 14, she was subjected to "grooming" behaviors that predators use to gain a victim’s trust. By the time she was 15, Robinson was kissing her and forcing her to touch his genitals. The abuse progressed, with Robinson often engaging in oral sex and intercourse with her in the high school’s track and field shed.
The complaint alleges that the sex crimes occurred on school grounds from 1999 until 2001 and continued until the victim turned 18 years old.
The civil lawsuit also names former Los Gatos High School head track coach Willie Harmatz as a defendant.
The lawsuit states that Harmatz had been notified early on about Robinson’s predatory behavior by another student, who transferred to Los Gatos High to escape Robinson’s sexual misconduct at another school. It also states that on two separate occasions, Harmatz is alleged to have threatened two student-athletes if they cooperated with the police.
Los Gatos police began investigating Robinson when Jane Doe’s mother called police after finding a discarded pregnancy test in her daughter’s trash can along with sexually explicit love letters written by Robinson. However, the lawsuit claims that Harmatz impeded the investigation by threatening to make a student-athlete’s career difficult if she didn’t stop "lying" about Robinson.
Immediately following the investigation, according to the lawsuit, when the same student who transferred to Los Gatos to get away from Robinson told Coach Harmatz that she was going to report both her abuse and corroborate her teammate’s abuse to the police, Harmatz threatened to make her promising athletic career difficult.
The complaint also states that when the Los Gatos High School principal informed Harmatz that she intended to immediately terminate Robinson in light of the police investigation, he protested enough that the principal relented and decided to let Robinson off with a warning to use "common sense" in the future.
"The school district held nothing back in its zeal to protect a storied track program," attorney Robert Allard said. "To think that a track coach was allowed to suppress evidence in a childhood sexual abuse investigation to the point of silencing two critical witnesses so that his pedophile assistant could keep getting access to children is absolutely terrifying."
The scandal exploded in April of 2001 when the high school newspaper, El Gato, reported that Robinson had been "abruptly dismissed" for "poor judgment." Harmatz once again openly defied this decision, telling the newspaper that Robinson would nevertheless continue to coach on-campus practices "every single day."
Robinson was arrested in February 2019 by the San Jose Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and charged with sexually assaulting four girls, including Jane Doe.
Mr. Allard concluded, "This case cries out for justice. By allowing a coach to cover up for one of his assistants, the high school gave Robinson the "green light" to continue abusing girls – leaving a legacy of carnage."
Victims of Los Gatos High School sexual abuse are asked to contact the law firm. All communications are 100% confidential.
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Ed Vasquez at 408-420-6558 or by email: email@example.com