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School abuse victim wins $23 million in damages

LOS ANGELES -- A former student in Los Angeles was awarded $23 million in damages Tuesday for sexual abuse he endured at the hands of his elementary school teacher.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for less than five hours before finding in favor of the teen.

The lawsuit, filed on his behalf in October 2009, concerned abuse by Forrest Stobbe, the boy's fifth-grade teacher at Queen Anne Elementary School in the Mid-Wilshire area.

Stobbe was sentenced to 16 years in prison after pleading no contest to criminal charges in the case in 2011. He had been arrested in 2010, when he was 39.

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The jury on Tuesday apportioned 30 percent of the fault, or about $6.9 million, to the former Los Angeles Unified School District student.  The remaining fault was apportioned to Stobbe, but he had been dismissed as a defendant in the case, according to the plantiff's attorney, Stephen Estey.

The district will have to pay a $3 million deductible to its insurer, which will cover the remaining $3.9 million portion of the award, according to Sean Rossall, a spokesman for LAUSD's Office of General Counsel.

"The district is still evaluating whether an appeal is warranted in this case," Rossall said.

Stobbe abused the boy 10 to 15 times in the classroom during the 2008-9 school years, and another five times during the summer of 2009, according to Estey.

LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist said in a statement: “Although we can't change what happened in this case, we remain committed to doing everything in our power to promote healing and improve trust with those impacted."

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