School district agrees to $4M settlement for Richmond High gang rape victim 

The West Contra Costa Unified School District has agreed to pay $4 million to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of a teenage girl who was beaten and gang raped outside Richmond High School's homecoming dance in October 2009, an attorney for the school district confirmed today.

The school district signed the settlement in November, but didn't release specifics about the terms of the agreement because of concerns for the safety of the victim and her family, said Pleasant Hill attorney Timothy Murphy, who represented the school district in the civil case.

The victim, who was 16 at the time of the attack, has since relocated, Murphy said.

Under the terms of the settlement, the victim will receive $2.5 million up front. Some of that money, however, will pay for attorney's fees and medical costs, Murphy said.

The remaining $1.5 million will be invested and paid over time to the victim through a structured agreement.

The school district, which is a member of a joint powers authority, will pay $100,000 of the settlement. The remainder will be paid by the joint powers authority, which is made up of public entities such as cities and school districts, Murphy said.

Murphy said the district decided to settle the lawsuit rather than take it to trial in part because district officials knew that taking it to trial would be an expensive and time-consuming process. Settling the case early would also help the victim get treatment sooner, he said.

"I have nothing but sympathy for this young lady and her family," school district board member Tony Thurmond said. "What happened to her shouldn't happen to anyone."

"We have to continue to be vigilant to sure that all young people are safe and nothing such as this ever happens again," Thurmond said.

The rape happened Oct. 24, 2009, on the Richmond High School campus.

The victim had attended the school's homecoming dance that night, but left early. As she was leaving, a friend invited her to a dark courtyard area on the north end of campus to drink with him and his friends, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing in the case.

The victim allegedly got drunk and passed out, which is when a group of males allegedly beat, robbed and sexually assaulted her for more than two hours while others stood by and watched, according to police.

Seven defendants were charged in connection with the case and six were ordered to stand trial after a lengthy preliminary hearing that ended in December.

DNA evidence indicates that some of the assailants still haven't been identified, according to evidence presented at the hearing.

School board member Charles Ramsey said in November that the school district knew at the time of the assault that the area was a security risk and had been working on plans to improve safety for about a year before the alleged rape.

The school district has since spent about $2 million installing lights, security cameras and other security improvements in the courtyard, Ramsey said.

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