The jury in a lawsuit trial against the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center on Monday found the Center liable for damages in the case of a boy who was allegedly repeatedly molested at the facility.
Attorney Stephen G. Larson said in an email to Pasadena Now that the jury found in favor of his client, known only as John Doe, and against the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center for all claims and awarded the boy and his family $9.5 million in general damages (pain and suffering) and $504,871 in special damages (which is past and future payments for medical expenses and other economic damages), for a total of just over $10 million in damages.
Larson said that the jury was required to apportion responsibility for the general damages between the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center and Leslie Dittert, the alleged molester in this case. Larson said the jury found the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center 70% responsible.
“Thus, the total due by the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center to John Doe (70% of general damages and 100% of special damages) is $7,154,871,” Larson said.
The Rose Bowl Aquatic Center’s President and Executive Director Kurt Knop said in a statement he and the center “respectfully disagree with the jury’s decision and will be reviewing this decision very carefully.”
“We continue to believe that the person responsible for this heinous criminal act is Mr. Leslie Adam Dittert who has fled the country,” Knop continued.
The suit against the center and then-57-year-old Dittert arose from an incident on May 18, 2015, when an 11-year-old boy who was participating in a swim team practice told his mother an older man inside the facility had sexually molested him.
During the subsequent police investigation, information was developed that the boy had allegedly been repeatedly sexually abused by Dittert since December 2014 at various locations inside the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center.
The lawsuit claimed and the jury agreed that the center maintained poor security and failed to adequately monitor and supervise children under its “care, custody and control.” That negligence, the complaint argued, allowed another patron to repeatedly sexually abuse and molest the boy in the men’s locker room, family changing rooms, and the jacuzzi over a period of six months.
“We are deeply saddened for the plaintiff and his family about this tragic event.” Knop also said. “Safety has always been of paramount importance to us and remains so. The Center in its efforts to continually improve will review its training staffing and physical layout. We firmly believe that our Center remains a safe place and have a zero tolerance policy for any behavior that causes harm to anyone.”