Law firm of Cerri, Boskovich & Allard files sexual abuse lawsuit against Los Banos Unified School District and Merced County Office of Education

Two alleged victims of former teachers Gary Bettencourt and Dusty Norris seek to hold the enablers of their predators accountable for their sexual abuse.

The law firm of Cerri, Boskovich & Allard has filed a sexual abuse lawsuit in Merced County Superior Court alleging that former Merced County educators, Gary Bettencourt and Dusty Norris, sexually abused two young students.

Identified as Jane Doe 1 in the lawsuit, the complaint alleges that Norris abused her during the 2004-2005 school year. At the time Norris was employed by the Merced County of Education (MCOE) as an ROP teacher at Los Banos High School.

The lawsuit also identifies Jane Doe 2 as a victim of both Norris and Bettencourt. Norris is still awaiting trial on charges that he allegedly sexually abused Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 while he was an ROP instructor.

Former Los Banos High School teacher Bettencourt entered a no contest plea in 2016 to sexually abusing Jane Doe 2 along with two other students. He was sentenced to eight years, four months in prison.

In late 2017, attorneys for Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 withdrew a lawsuit against the Los Banos Unified School District due to an adverse California State Supreme Court ruling. The Court ruled that victims of sexual abuse prior to 2008, such as Doe 1 and 2, were required to provide school districts notice that they were going to file a lawsuit within six months of the date they were last abused.

The law was changed in 2020 with the passage of Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218). It did away with the claim requirement and allowed victims, no matter when they were abused, three years to bring a lawsuit. The three years expires Dec. 31, 2022.

“The 2017 Supreme Court ruling re-victimized a countless number of sexual abuse victims by holding young victims to an unjust six-month notice requirement,” attorney Lauren Cerri said. “Even though the state legislature immediately tried to clarify the law, school districts continued to enforce a six-month claim filing procedure until the passage of AB 218 explicitly eliminated all legal loopholes for claims against public institutions.”

Attorneys for Jane Doe 1 and 2 are seeking help from those with information on the case. Please contact the law firm at 408-289-1417.

About Cerri, Boskovich & Allard

The sexual abuse legal team at Cerri, Boskovich & Allard has a national reputation and proven record of helping survivors and their families recover from childhood sexual abuse. The firm’s $65 million sexual abuse jury verdict in a case against a public school is believed to be the largest single plaintiff verdict ever in California and the U.S. In May 2022, the law firm obtained a $10 million jury verdict for the 2003 sexual abuse of a then-high school tennis player abused by his coach. And earlier this year, the firm secured $7.5 million for five men sexually abused by their teacher in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

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