A former Utah man says an employee at a St. George school for troubled youths, who is now a registered sex offender, sexually abused him when he was 13 years old.
It is the second lawsuit filed this year to say former Red Rock Canyon School employee Diarra Fields sexually abused a student while working at the school. The allegation is made in a lawsuit filed in 5th District Court on Wednesday.
The lawsuit lists as defendants Fields, Red Rock Canyon and the school’s subsidiaries.
Red Rock Canyon School is a psychiatric residential treatment center for adolescents.
The lawsuit seeks an amount of money to be decided by a jury, but it says damages are “well in excess” of $300,000.
According to the lawsuit, the victim was 13 when he enrolled in the school in November 2011. Fields was 27 at the time. The lawsuit says the victim was sexually abused 15 times by another student, who threatened him in order to receive sexual favors.
“This isn’t just staff on student molestations,” said attorney Matthew Feller, who is representing the victims in both lawsuits. “There are also allegations of student on student molestations. That’s a problem.”
The victim in the most recent lawsuit, now an adult, lives in California. The Salt Lake Tribune generally does not name victims of sexual assault.
The lawsuit also says Fields abused the boy when the two were alone. School policy states that staff members are not allowed to be alone with students, according to the lawsuit.
The school was negligent in protecting students from Fields, the lawsuit says, and staffers knew or should have known he was spending time alone with students. It also says Fields abused at least three students.
Feller said he isn’t aware Fields’ abuse being reported and then ignored by the school, but said they should have been aware of him spending time alone with students. Feller also said he has not been in contact with any other victims.
A voicemail seeking comment from the school was not immediately returned Thursday night. According to the state sex offender registry, Fields is noncompliant and there is no known address for him.
A lawsuit filed in January by a separate male victim says Fields abused him in summer 2012, when the boy was 16.
Fields, now 33, was charged with sexual abuse in 2012. He pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree-felony forcible sexual abuse in 2014, shortly before he was set to go to trial.
He was sentenced to 210 days in jail with credit for time served and was placed on probation. His probation ended in March 2017, according to court documents.
He also pleaded no contest to two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence in the presence of a child in 2015.
Feller said in these cases he focuses on the institutions rather than the individual abusers, because they are providing an environment where inappropriate behavior can flourish.
“You’re always going to have these guys out there, “ Feller said. “These facilities I think need to do a little more.”