EDINBURG — The school district here is facing a $25 million lawsuit that alleges it didn’t do enough to stop a high school teacher from sexually assaulting female students even after one of the victims complained.
Houston personal injury attorney Tony Buzbee filed the lawsuit Aug. 29 on behalf of a former Robert Vela High School student, whom Buzbee only referred to as Jane Doe to protect her privacy.
Doe alleges her Career and Technology teacher, Francisco Coronado Badillo III, sexually assaulted her numerous times while on and off campus, beginning in March 2017.
Multiple news reports indicated Badillo was arrested in May 2017 on accusations of sexual assault and having an improper relationship with a student. He was arrested again a few days later in June 2017 for alleged sexual assault of a child.
It’s unclear if Buzbee’s recent civil lawsuit and Badillo’s previous arrests are connected, though Buzbee does mention in the suit the former teacher’s run-ins with law enforcement.
“Badillo had a criminal history, but nevertheless Edinburg CISD hired Badillo as a teacher,” the lawsuit stated.
A search of public records found Badillo was convicted in 2001 for driving while intoxicated and given one year probation.
Buzbee, however, noted in his suit that Badillo was recently found guilty and convicted of sexual assault, a second-degree felony. He was sentenced to four years in prison about two weeks ago, Aug 26.
Three days later, Buzbee filed the civil suit.
Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District officials declined to comment Wednesday on the allegations, only releasing a statement via email that read, “The school district does not comment on pending litigation.”
Buzbee described his client as a “happy and hard-working” 16-year-old.
“Prior to the assaults and rape, Jane Doe loved school and loved sports,” Buzbee wrote. “She loved all the things that other girls of the same age enjoy.”
The Houston attorney described in painful detail some of the alleged assaults.
According to Buzbee, Badillo became her teacher during the 2017 spring semester and “progressed from inappropriate comments to uncomfortable touching.”
Soon after, he began removing her from class and taking her into an empty classroom and a storage room, “where he subjected her to repeated incidents of sexual assault and rape,” the suit alleged.
The classroom in question belonged to Badillo’s wife.
“At the time of Badillo’s first sexual advance, he pulled Jane Doe out of her fourth period class, brought Jane Doe to his wife’s classroom, and proceeded to sexually assault her,” the suit further alleged.
According to the court document, there is surveillance footage of Badillo escorting the student into the empty rooms.
On a separate occasion, he drove Doe to his sister’s house, where Badillo consumed alcohol and sexually assaulted the student in one of the bedrooms, the suit also alleged.
Buzbee claimed in the suit that the former CTE teacher had a history of attending parties with students, handing out drugs to them, and even letting them input grades.
“A recent graduate had reported Badillo’s conduct to the school prior to March 2017, but the school failed to take action,’ Buzbee wrote.
Badillo remained on the campus.
“Even though (the district) had knowledge of Badillo’s conduct, (it) never informed the parents or the students,” the lawsuit stated. “(ECISD) failed to terminate Badillo from his position and ban him from campus.”
Two months later, “on or around May 25, 2017, a student tipped off the principal that Badillo was taking Jane Doe out of class and into another classroom.”
A campus police officer was summoned to the front of the school to speak with Doe and it was then that Buzbee’s client made an outcry in front of the officer and an assistant principal, who was not named in the suit.
“The school advised Badillo to resign and told him he could transfer to another school once the investigation was complete,” Buzbee wrote. “The school also told (Doe) that these events should not have happened and that the school should have kept a closer watch on Badillo.”
After word spread about the alleged assaults, Doe was “bullied mercilessly” by other students and on the internet. She was forced to withdraw from school and eventually moved out of the city, according to the suit.
She is currently seeking counseling for having suicidal thoughts, major depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and being plagued by nightmares, the suit stated.
Relationships with her parents and close friends have deteriorated, causing her even more emotional distress and psychological damage, according to the suit. As a result, Doe is asking the court for a $25 million judgment in her favor.