Lawsuit Filed Against Chico Unified School District by Former Student Alleging Sexual Abuse by Middle School Teacher Over the Span of Multiple Years

A lawsuit has been filed by Jane Doe in Butte County Superior Court alleging childhood sexual assault and abuse by her former teacher, Jennifer Lynn Smith. The abuse occurred over the course of multiple years at Bidwell Junior High School.

Jane Doe, according to the complaint, was sexually assaulted, molested, and abused beginning at age 13, in 2009. At this time, Doe was an eighth-grade student in Smith’s Spanish class at Bidwell. After Doe confided in Smith regarding difficulties at home, Smith began “grooming” Doe – manipulating her emotions so that she could take sexual advantage of Doe – by pretending to take an interest in her home situation, even going so far as to call Doe her “adopted daughter”. Smith used her position of trust and authority to take advantage of her young, impressionable student in her time of greatest need.

Smith invited Doe to spend the night at her home, also occupied by her husband and children, and regularly pushed Doe to drink alcohol while Smith molested her. Smith continued to sexually abuse Doe throughout middle & high school. When Doe was 16, she moved in with Smith and her family, and the assault continued and worsened: on weekends, Smith would not allow Doe to leave her home and kept her nearly blackout drunk, repeatedly assaulting her. 

On March 24, 2021, Smith was sentenced to five years in state prison for the sexual abuse of Jane Doe.

Students, such as Jane Doe, are entrusted in the care of their schools and its teachers every day.  As alleged in the complaint, Chico Unified School District had an affirmative duty to protect Jane Doe, who was under their care and supervision, from the foreseeable risk of harm posed by its teachers or school employees, like Smith, and failed grievously to do so.  

The case is Jane Doe v. Chico Unified School District, Butte County Superior Court, Case No. 21CV00762. To read the complaint, click here. A PR Newswire link can be found here.