In October 2011, a district case emerged which left many stunned. “M.S” (name kept undisclosed for the victim’s discretion), who was a student at Edison Middle School at the time, claimed that her teacher had been taking advantage of her sexually for about over a year.
It all started when she was thirteen, Elkis Hermida, her teacher, sent her an invitation to become online friends. At the time, M.S thought nothing of it and accepted his request to befriend her. Later that same year, Hermida invited the said student to his classroom and asked her to close the door behind her. As soon as she did that, the teacher kissed and then hugged her. Following March, Hermida took M.S, who was fourteen by then, to a motel where they allegedly had sexual intercourse. The next time they performed this activity was in Hermida’s classroom.
According to the court’s report, Hermida had made clear to M.S that the nature of their relationship was purely sexual and not romantic – they were not dating. When Hermida made this clear to M.S, she wanted to opt out of the setup but stayed silent since she didn’t feel that she was allowed to make the choice. Upon their next encounter, Hermida attempted to have anal sex with her, which she refused to be a part of but Hermida entered something into her rectum regardless.
A month later, in May, M.S disclosed their relationship to another teacher at the school, who reported Hermida, her report resulted in Hermida getting arrested, and was immediately sentenced to three years in prison. That was when M.S’s family filed a case against the LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified District).
Let’s take an in-depth look at what happened during the trial.
It’s no surprise that criminal trials are extremely traumatizing for younger victims. It could have become less difficult for M.S and her family when Elkis Hermida decided to plead no contest, since it would render the probability of either the defendant or plaintiff guilty. The LAUSD made it terribly hard on the fourteen year old by filing a motion to evaluate the cognitive state of M.S, and the request to approve interrogation about M.S’s sexual history. This particular motion, however, was denied instantly.
Later in October 2013, M.S filed a request to “preclude evidence of her sexual history” which was opposed right away by the LAUSD –the intentions becoming increasingly strange. They hired Dr. Stan Katz, who is a clinical and forensic psychologist, who stated that having sexual relations outside of the one M.S had with her teacher, can mean that she is able to make that decision coherently. He also officially testified that the relation matured M.S by a great deal.
So, does he mean the inappropriate relationship aided maturity, and hence was less traumatic than it appeared to be? Think about that. Later, Dr. Katz stated that the use of M.S’s language (referring to her use of the word “quickie”) indicated that she was more than aware of the nature of the relationship and possessed the ability to give full consent.
Upon constant backlash on Katz’s comments about M.S’s mental health and wellbeing, LAUSD decided to change their consultation. However, they later admitted that he has assisted them on over five cases over the course of one year.
I am an alumni adviser for a fraternity at USC. The chapter was involved in a disciplinary action with the university. After receiving unusually harsh and unfair sanctions from a student/faculty review committee, our chapter sought counsel from James Kosnett. He attended a hearing with USC administrators, and prepared a compelling written appeal.