The attorney representing the 14-year-old girl who told police she was raped by a janitor at Saguaro High School said he is readying a lawsuit against the Scottsdale Unified School District.
Attorney Craig Knapp said Friday he plans to submit a notice of claim to the district, a precursor to a lawsuit, in about three weeks and subpoena “more people than usual” to let the district know “what is coming.”
Roberto Lemus-Retana, 26, a worker for ABM Janitorial Services, which contracts with Scottsdale schools, was arrested Aug. 25 on suspicion of sexual assault.
The girl told police that Lemus-Retana made unwanted advances in a school bathroom before he forced her to have sex in a computer classroom, according to a court document.
Lemus-Retana, who is an illegal immigrant from Mexico, told police the sex was consensual and that the girl told him she was 17.
“The bottom line is that he’s illegal and has a criminal record,” Knapp said. “A basic elementary background check would’ve showed that. The schools have to do their job and not outsource the background checks for people who are working in the schools.”
Lemus-Retana had cleared a background check on the state level and provided all the paperwork required to work at ABM and the school district, a company spokesman has said. Since the incident, the district has changed policies related to contract workers and now requires a thirdparty verification that a background check was made. The district also requires that a copy of the background check be made available for its review.
After Knapp files a notice of claim, the school district will have 60 days to respond to it, and the girl and her family have a year from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit.
Lemus-Retana is being held in the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail without bond. He has been charged with seven felony counts of sexual assault-related offenses involving a minor. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
Lemus-Retana was arrested in Mohave County on May 14 by a DPS officer on suspicion of DUI, when it was discovered he was living in the United States illegally, according to an official with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Border Patrol agents removed him from a Mohave County jail on May 18, and he was supposed to be returned to Mexico, said Russell Ahr, spokesman for ICE.
Keith Sterling, spokesman for the Scottsdale Unified School District, said “absolutely we will be defending ourselves,” should a lawsuit be filed. He said he could not comment further due to pending litigation.
The girl, who is receiving private counseling, hasn’t returned to school since the incident and it is unlikely she will return to Saguaro High School, Knapp said.