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Former Paly student sentenced for 2016 rape

Reports surrounding student sparked uproar in 2017

A former Palo Alto High School student was sentenced in juvenile court in San Jose on Friday, Aug. 24, for two sexual-assault convictions. Photo by Elena Kadvany.

UPDATE: A restitution hearing was held on Sept. 25. No restitution was requested, said Deputy District Attorney Audrey Pak.

A former Palo Alto High School student was sentenced Friday to 60 days in juvenile hall for sexually assaulting a young woman in 2016. It was the second sexual-violence conviction for the young man, whose continued enrollment at Paly in 2017, after the first conviction and a third accusation sparked community outrage.

He was convicted on Aug. 6 of two felony charges: rape and forced oral copulation, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

The convictions stem from incidents that took place between January and May 2016. The district attorney's office would not disclose where the assaults took place.

The young man, whom the Weekly is not identifying because he was a minor at the time of the assaults, appeared in juvenile court in San Jose on Friday morning with his parents and defense attorney, Stephanie Rickard. After the sentencing, he was immediately taken to Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall. Rickard declined to comment for this story.

Although juvenile court proceedings are typically closed, the hearing was open to the public due to the seriousness of the offenses.

These were not the young man's first juvenile sexual violence convictions. In December 2016, he was found to have committed forced oral copulation of a female Menlo-Atherton High School student, then 15 years old, in October 2015, according to court documents reviewed by the Palo Alto Weekly. The assault took place in the bathroom of a local church. He received probation, was ordered to pay restitution to the young woman and to adhere to a restraining order.

He was also accused of forcing a female Paly freshman, then 14 years old, to perform oral sex on him in a campus bathroom in 2016; however, the district attorney's office declined to file any charges against him other than "underage sexual activity," according to Rickard.

It's unclear if he was convicted of this crime, a misdemeanor, since court records for that charge are sealed.

Then a junior student-athlete, the young man remained at Paly. After this incident and the M-A conviction came to light last spring, parents, students and community members flooded public meetings in outrage over the district's handling of the allegations. They asked that the young man be removed from campus and called for the resignation of top administrators. Within days, his attorney released a statement that he "elected not to complete the school year on campus."

In an interview after Friday's sentencing, Deputy District Attorney Audrey Pak told the Weekly that the sentence was "just, given our limited options."

Because of legal limitations — including the young man's age, the time that has passed since the assaults and the nature of his most recent conviction, a separate misdemeanor charge that does not fall under the category of disclosable offenses for juveniles — the district attorney's office was not able to seek time in the Department of Juvenile Justice, or state-level incarceration for minors. The "baseline" sentence for sexual offenses in the Department of Juvenile Justice is four years, Pak said.

"Given the number of victims that we know about and the nature of what happened I think that would have been an option we would have explored if that was available," she said.

Pak read a statement on behalf of the unidentified young woman, who was not in court.

"'But you wanted it,'" her statement begins. "'You liked him.' 'He made you happy.' 'Did you say no?' 'Did you say stop?' 'Why didn't you say stop?' 'What were you wearing?' 'Why did you see him?' 'Are you sure?'

"'No, are you really sure?'"

She described the emotional impact of the assault and the difficulty of coming forward. Her daily routine was "distorted," she wrote. She felt "stuck mentally," "scared," "ashamed," and "hopeless."

She said she did not give consent, telling the young man "no."

"My 'no' was not enough," she wrote. "He took complete advantage of my innocence .... He continued to do such acts when aware I did not want to."

She asked that the judge give him the maximum sentence permissible by law.

"He should learn the magnitude of his crime and should have serious consequences," she wrote, "and thus, there will never be another victim ever again."

The Menlo-Atherton student he was found to have sexually assaulted in 2015 was sitting in the courtroom on Friday. After listening to the other victim's impact statement, she asked to address the judge.

She's waited three years, she said, "for a day when I felt like justice would finally be served."

In her own victim impact statement, read at his sentencing for that case last January, she asked that the judge do more than place him on probation to "convey the message that sexual assault, and especially a forcible one, is a very serious offense."

On Friday, she expressed her appreciation for the court taking the 2016 case seriously but lamented that other young women were sexually assaulted after her.

Rickard said her client "has extreme remorse" and has taken steps toward rehabilitation in recent months, including voluntarily going to an out-of-state "facility" where he's received counseling and academic instruction; complying with the terms of his existing probation; and pursuing college options. He was "not aware" of how the young woman felt at the time of the 2016 assaults, Rickard said.

"He is taking responsibility," she said.

The former Paly student will be required to attend sex offender treatment while in juvenile hall and after he is released, according to the probation department's recommendation. While in juvenile hall, the probation department will have the discretion to allow him to leave to attend therapy.

Once released, he will be placed on probation. He will also be ordered to pay restitution to the young woman and adhere to a restraining order Judge Julianne Sylva issued on Friday.

Juvenile court judges face a difficult task, Sylva said, in balancing rehabilitation and accountability for minors, who she said respond less favorably to negative consequences. In this case, she deemed time in juvenile hall appropriate to "allow him to reflect" and learn from his convictions.

"In this case, I have live, breathing victims who will be trapped in the memories of what happened to them for the rest of their lives," Sylva said.

She believed his understanding of consent — "getting a 'yes' in a clear and unequivocal manner," regardless of a person's incapacitation due to alcohol or any other factors — has shifted since he committed the crimes.

"I believe that that lesson has been learned by him," the judge said.

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Comments

2 people like this
Posted by now
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 24, 2018 at 4:43 pm

[Post removed.]


86 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 24, 2018 at 5:01 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

This is the kid who Kim Diorio et al (including PTSA members) found it appropriate to leave on the same campus as his victim.

Let's see all those teachers and staff that defended Diorio at the school board meetings last year. Maybe they need to think about the young students that were harmed.

PAUSD even managed to promote Kathie Laurence to principal at Gunn even though she failed the student miserably.


2 people like this
Posted by JoanneH
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 24, 2018 at 5:43 pm

JoanneH is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Former Paly Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 24, 2018 at 5:52 pm

Former Paly Parent is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


60 people like this
Posted by Downfall
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 24, 2018 at 11:05 pm

Downfall is a registered user.

This is deplorable, I don't care how young he was when he committed the crimes. 3 lives he potentially permanently impacted or destroyed and he gets 60 days in juvie? I really hate our society some times. I understand giving juveniles a second chance and less harsh punishment but this kid was apparently a serial assaulter before he even finished high school.


100 people like this
Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2018 at 12:58 am

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

This entire episode is shameful and worst of all, it could have been avoided. What makes it most horrendous is the cover-up [portion removed] and unethical responses by the school district.

Let's be clear here: the law is GOOD and it is there to protect all students. No one -- no girl, no boy, no teacher, no staff member, no animal, no plant -- benefits from the presence and support (whether direct or indirect in the form of tolerance) of a sexual assailant. Protecting the rapist over the victim harmed everyone -- most of all the victim, but also ultimately all of us in the PAUSD.

I am a baseball mom, and I can speak with certainty that this boy was known to have been a behavior problem for many years. This simply is not a secret. And also I speak with certainty that the high-integrity athletes -- which describes the vast majority of athletes in Palo Alto -- do not want this kind of bully and criminal on their team. I don't know whom the PAUSD thought they were protecting by keeping this kid around, but I honestly think that if the district would have asked the other kids -- both male and female -- whether they think the rapist should have been a part of their team and community, the children themselves would have answered NO. I wonder, were they asked?

Perhaps we can learn from this by listening to the kids more than we listen to the politicians. When there are so many hard-working, well-behaved students, we harm the students who do the right thing when we stand up for the students who do not. Our (law-abiding, ethical) children deserve better from the adults whose jobs are to protect them.


19 people like this
Posted by Counsel
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2018 at 7:53 am

Counsel is a registered user.

Thank you, Rebecca Eisenberg, for your advice on legal matters that this district gravely needs.

If Dr. Austin is following this thread, I hope he will do a search on the district's legal matters over the past several year, and read the contributions by Rebecca Eisenberg. She represents the community's voice, and her legal expertise is invaluable. This district needs the courage of people like Rebecca to set the sail straight and stop the CYA culture - which have been hurting students and families for over a decade.

We as a community have not seen any positive change since Megan Farrel came on board - kids continue to get hurt and be victimized, lawsuits one after another.


50 people like this
Posted by Paly father
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 25, 2018 at 5:58 pm

Paly father is a registered user.

The entire PAUSD board involved in this fiasco needs to go home. When the scandal broke out last year, only one of them even bothered to respond to an inquiry I sent about the case, asking them just to confirm the basic facts exposed by KTVU - that a convicted sex offender was still attending Paly.

Elections are coming up in November. Board president Ken Dauber's term and board member Terry Godfrey's term are expiring. I don;t know if they plan to run again, but if they do - please do the responsible thing and vote them out of office. They are not worthy of the position.


14 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2018 at 2:49 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

It is easy to see Principal Dorio as bearing responsibility for this, but the clear evidence is that district officials gave her instructions to handle the matter in the way that she did.

A number of people in the administration (some departed) as well as the board should be held accountable for this.


27 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Samuel L. is a registered user.

@Paly Father: Dauber is running again this election, Godfrey is not.

@rsmithjr: Diorio has MUCH responsibility for this. She was the principal (thankfully that's past tense). Yes the district screwed up, as well. But, if you read the Cozen report, Diorio's name is barely to be found. What does that tell you about how Diorio cared about her students or her leadership? When the story broke, she went on the Paly news show to say that the boy had not been charged with or convicted with assault on Paly campus. No, but he had been charged with a rape off campus and a Paly student reported that he also forced her to orally copulate him. Diorio defended his right to remain on campus.

After it came out, the district definitely worked their hardest to deflect responsibility to anywhere they could, as they always do. The board did the same.

Last week, I heard board members publicly apologize to neighbors of PAUSD schools for the placement of solar panels. I never heard any board member apologize to the girl that was assaulted and her family for how they have handled all of this.

PAUSD, Paly and PTSA leadership should all be ashamed and embarrassed as how they have responded to this. Add in to that the Paly teachers and staff that stood up at the board meeting to defend Diorio and mention how she's changed the culture at Paly. What a joke. I can remember Bloom, Diepenbrock and Benfield at least all get up and defend her. They all need to have a talk with the female student.


17 people like this
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 26, 2018 at 10:57 pm

Paly Alum is a registered user.

This just feeds into the racism stereotype. Perhaps that's what Diorio was protecting, didn't want to be called a racist.


5 people like this
Posted by Aletheia
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 27, 2018 at 11:44 am

Aletheia is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


27 people like this
Posted by Former Gunn Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 27, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Former Gunn Parent is a registered user.

The cover-ups are still going on at Gunn and in the district. My daughter, a Gunn 2018 grad, was involved in a Title IX case during the 2017-2018 school year. When the report was finally done, 2 Gunn staff members and 2 students were found to have violated her Title IX rights. There has been NO punishment of any of the people involved and Kathie Laurence has continued to defend the 2 staff members, who are both still employed at Gunn. If you read the report in full it is amazing what these men did during the investigation with information about the case and you are sure they should be fired due to their treatment of girls at Gunn.....but no, they both still have their jobs and very few people know what they did.

As my husband said at one point, "short of bringing a gun to school and threatening people, it is next to impossible to get dangerous people removed from our schools. The rights of the perpetrators seem more important than the rights of the victims."


19 people like this
Posted by Elena Kadvany
education reporter of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Aug 27, 2018 at 3:00 pm

Elena Kadvany is a registered user.

To Former Gunn parent: My name is Elena Kadvany; I'm the Weekly's education reporter. Would you be willing to share more about your experience with the Title IX process in PAUSD? Please feel free to email me at ekadvany@paweekly.com. Thank you.


1 person likes this
Posted by Lennie
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2018 at 5:15 pm

Lennie is a registered user.

Dear Paly Alum, can you explain your comment about the racism stereotype? I don't know what you are referring to.


17 people like this
Posted by Facts and Figures
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 28, 2018 at 1:51 pm

Facts and Figures is a registered user.

Dear Elena and Palo Alto Weekly,
Please consider the gravity of this issue when you make your endorsements for School Board. We need a Board which will lead with the transparency and value system that reflects the core education values of this community, which I think and hope are student safety and educational opportunity for everyone.
This District is not broken, but certain areas need to be fixed. The Board must be prepared to take on these areas of improvement.
Thank you for considering this.


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