Elementary student's lawsuit accuses school therapist of molestation

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- An elementary school student says he was molested by a Fresno County employee sent into his Central Unified school as a therapist.

Inside an office at McKinley Elementary School, an 11-year-old boy already living with some mental health issues says the therapist who came to help him heal actually made things worse.

A lawsuit claims Juan Hernandez physically and sexually harassed, battered, molested and abused the boy three times during sessions when they were alone together.

"This may be a difficult case to prove," legal analyst Tony Capozzi said. "It's apparently a one-on-one situation with an adult therapist from the County of Fresno coming into a Central Unified school."

Fresno Police actually determined there wasn't enough evidence to prove criminal intent by Hernandez, but the burden of proof is lower in civil court.

An attorney for the boy's family tells Action News the kid told his mother about it before the final incident and that's when they filed the police report and notified school administrators who confronted Hernandez.

A spokeswoman for the district tells us they pulled the therapist and launched an investigation.

But "Hernandez was not an employee of Central Unified, nor has he stepped foot on our campuses since we were notified of allegations made against him," said Sonja Dosti.

Hernandez is actually a Fresno County behavioral health employee since 2016 and he's assigned to schools in west Fresno County.
Capozzi says he shouldn't be on the job right now.

"He may still be working for the county but clearly he should be put on administrative leave -- either with or without pay -- this needs to be cleared up before he should be allowed to go into any school district to talk to any child," he said.

The county wouldn't tell us whether Hernandez was on leave, citing privacy laws.

"No charges have been filed and the county has not been made aware of any evidence of wrongdoing in this matter," Jordan Scott wrote in a statement to Action News. "However, the department is taking appropriate steps to assure the absolute safety of all clients of the department as this matter is investigated."

Our emails and calls to Hernandez went unanswered.

The civil lawsuit is set for a court hearing in June.
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