BELMONT -- A Belmont woman sexually assaulted by a school janitor in 2001 has filed a lawsuit against the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District for neglecting to fully investigate, report to authorities or fire the convicted sex offender after at least eight allegations of sexual abuse over 20 years.

Roxanne Pedro, 25, filed complaints Feb. 26 against the district and several other administrators prosecutors say were complicit in her abuse, including San Mateo County Superintendent Anne Campbell, who announced her re-election bid last month.

Also listed as defendants on the complaint are former district Director of Business Services Jeffrey Keuscher, former principal of Ralston Middle School, Jayne Chelberg, former assistant principal Daniel Lyttle and former vice principal Lawrence Glendenning.

Campbell, spokesman Thomas DeLapp and other representatives for the Belmont-Redwood Shores Unified School District did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

The perpetrator, 55-year-old Andre Edwards, will soon finish up a nine-month jail sentence after pleading no contest in April to groping Pedro and another student in 2010. Pedro's attorney, Marc Lewis, said it took 12 years for his client's case to be prosecuted, and only after Edwards similarly assaulted the other girl by luring her into his office, forcing himself upon her and reaching under her clothes.

"Roxanne was devastated by the news that another girl had been victimized at the hands of Edwards, and she was an emotional wreck in the days and weeks after meeting with the probation officer," the complaint read. "After facing more than a decade of skepticism and disbelief from her peers, teachers, school administrators and the police, it appeared the authorities had finally accepted that she had, in fact, suffered horrific sexual abuse in 2001."

The complaint alleged administrators were "skeptical" and "neglectful" of the abuse, which occurred when Edwards towered over Pedro in his janitorial office and asked her questions about her genitals and whether she knew how to perform oral sex. He then yanked up her dress and fondled her with his fingers before warning her not to tell anyone and taunting, "That was just a taste."

The girl went immediately to Principal Chelberg, who said it was unlikely the longtime janitor "would engage in such repugnant conduct," the complaint said. Edwards later told police she had been in his office asking him to buy alcohol and cigarettes.

According to the complaint, the girl was also reportedly antagonized by police, who demanded she write an apology letter to her abuser after she failed a polygraph test. The former honor student returned to school to be ostracized by students, faculty and administrators at the highest level, her grades plummeting as she began skipping class.

Prosecutors maintained that the series of traumatic events thrust the girl "utterly unprepared and still emotionally traumatized" into a period of sexual confusion and promiscuity, and she began dating a 19-year-old man at the age of 12. The young girl, who was a virgin at the time of her abuse, was pregnant by the age of 13.

The lawsuit went on to mention at least six additional incidents where the district failed to react appropriately, beginning with the failure to report a sexual abuse case in 1991. They let him keep his job in 1992 after he was fired from the Peninsula Jewish Community Center for peeping at undressing girls, overlooked reports he had kissed and groped a basketball player in 1993 and failed to investigate the discovery of a used condom and pornographic magazine in his office in 2001.

In June 1996, the district launched an investigation led by then-principal Campbell into allegations Edwards verbally harassed multiple students with remarks like "You don't know what a real man is like until you have had me," and "You want me and you know it." Though the investigator "believed in the credibility of the former student and had no reason to doubt her word," school officials neglected to report the case to authorities after deeming the girl's claims "unsubstantiated."

"School officials are mandatory reporters," said Lewis, who added that two other teachers reported the abuse to school officials in the 1996 case. "If there's enough evidence there to conduct an investigation and roll out specific procedures, how is there not enough evidence to report it, as they are obligated to do under the law?"

In an open letter sent to families in the wake of Edwards' arrest, school officials defended their response to the allegations and outlined preventive measures they had taken, including moving custodial offices to a more visible location and installing Dutch doors, advising custodians to refrain from being alone with students in their offices and providing yearly staff training and greater general oversight. Still the district, who once told this newspaper "If you're not convicted, we can't do anything about it if you don't have absolute proof," attributed its inaction in Pedro's case to a lawyer's conclusion that "it did not have enough provable facts to warrant formal disciplinary action against Edwards."

"The district does not need 'absolute proof' to take disciplinary action against an employee, but by law we also must observe due process and privacy rights for both students and employees," the letter read. "This is a case of hindsight being 20/20. ... We believe the district acted appropriately in 2001 within the confines of what it could substantiate as the facts of the situation at the time."

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