Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has been dealing with a slew of sexual misconduct cases, including that of a 9-year-old girl, who was sexually assaulted by a schoolmate.
The girl has a low IQ, between 64 and 70, and her assailant was not developmentally disabled. A psychologist for LAUSD argued in court that the girl’s IQ could be a “protective factor,” one that could reduce the harm she suffered as a result of the assault.
Dr. Stan Katz, who has appeared on reality T.V. and is frequently an expert witness for LAUSD, took the stand in May of 2013 to say the victim might be protected by her disabilities.
"There's a relationship between intelligence and depression,” he said. “What happens is the more you think about things, you can ruminate, you can focus on things, you can look at the complexities of the matter and become more depressed.”
Katz did say the girl suffered, but many psychologists and legal experts were stunned by his statements.
"I have never seen developmental disability in a child that age used as a protective factor with respect to how they handle trauma," said University of California San Francisco psychiatrist Dr. Lynn Ponton. "In fact, developmental disability quite often puts them at risk for this type of trauma.”
LAUSD Associate General Counsel Greg McNair told KPCC he hadn't read the trial transcripts or attended the hearing, but said: "I don’t know anything about that. I would not agree with that. I think anyone who has been involved in a traumatic event would suffer tremendously.”
The jurors were unhappy with Katz’ comments.
“The jury was offended; they were disgusted and they thought it was unbelievable that an expert witness could come in and say something like that,” said David Ring, the victim’s attorney.
The lawsuit sought compensation for the victim’s trauma and the long-term therapy she would need. The girl was awarded $1.4 million, which outstripped the $10,000-$12,500 LAUSD attorney Keith Wyatt argued she needed for mental health treatment.