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Others may have known

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By Lee Einer

A woman claiming to have been sexually harassed by Robertson High School Principal Richard Lopez said she had been harassed previously by Lopez and that she only reapplied for the job because a Las Vegas City Schools board member said Lopez would not harass her a second time.

The woman’s attorney, Merit Bennett, said the school board member knew about Lopez’s alleged harassment.

Las Vegas City Schools board member Phil Leger said he was the one to whom Lopez’s alleged victim spoke. Leger said he didn’t assure her per se, he urged her to speak to Superintendent Romero and explain the situation to him.

Leger said she didn’t say “harassment,” but rather said she didn’t feel comfortable interviewing with Lopez after what had happened to her the first time.

“I told her ‘I knew that she had problems the first time. Hopefully, it won’t happen again, but I would suggest you talk to Mr. Romero and explain the situation to him,” Leger said.

Leger said he also called Romero directly and explained the situation to him.

“She really didn’t say ‘harassed.’ She said she didn’t feel comfortable after what had happened the first time,” Leger said.

Romero said Lopez’s alleged victim did not mention harassment during her initial conversations with him. Romero said Leger told him that “there was a young lady who he had remembered had applied for a position previously and he remembered she was a good candidate and that he would refer her to the office for the vacancy.”  

Romero said he didn’t recall any mention by Leger of the woman being harassed or having a problem with Lopez during her previous interview.

Bennett also represents the young woman who alleged that Robertson teacher and golf coach Jay Quintana sexually abused her from 2002 through 2007. Bennett said that others knew about Quintana’s alleged abuse as well. He said it seems as if the district’s chain of command wasn’t watching and protecting students from this type of behavior.

Asked why it took years for Quintana’s alleged victim to come forward, Bennett said, “It’s very common for children who have been sexually abused really to be confused about what happened. They are silenced by their perpetrator and really don’t know  the nature and extent of the harm they have suffered until years later. We have had cases against the Catholic Church where it really didn’t dawn on some people that they suffered harm until they were in their 30s and 40s.

“She has always had the damage,” Bennett said. “It’s just that her awareness of it has now surfaced.”

Bennett said that while he is representing both women, both cases came to him separately and that to the best of his knowledge the two alleged victims do not know each other.  

“At this point there’s no direct relationship between the two,” Bennett said, “but there’s an indirect concern about the protection of students. I’m really concerned about what’s going on out  at Robertson  because these cases came to us totally from two different sources — my two clients do not know each other that I know of.”

School superintendent Richard Romero said he had no records on file indicating that there were prior complaints of abuse or harassment involving Lopez or Quintana, but that he is in the process of interviewing current and previous Robertson employees about sexual harassment and abuse.

“Not all of them,”  Romero said,  “but I go where the investigation leads. I have one conversation and it leads me to another and another. It branches out from there and I have quite a few lined up.”

Lopez and Quintana are both on leave. Romero has referred the cases to the Las Vegas Police Department.