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Lawsuit Filed Against Former Yuba City Teacher in Light of Students’ Allegations

YUBA CITY -- An announcement was made Wednesday on the Sutter County Courthouse steps about a student's right to safety at school.

"Unfortunately, for the last 20 years the students at Yuba City High School have been denied their constitutional, inalienable right because they have been subject to the predatory behavior of Jim Whiteaker," said attorney Paul Matiasic.

For Pantera Fridley, it was an announcement about a lawsuit against the former gym teacher and coach for alleged inappropriate sexual advances made against other students like her.

"He was like, 'I'm gonna make sure you pass this class' and he pinched me on the way up," she remembered.

Wednesday was the kind of day Fridley thought she would never see. Since six years ago, she says administrators have never addressed her own reports of pinching and private exercise demands.

"He was like, 'Oh nothing. I just want to see how many jumping jacks you can do.' And I was like, 'By myself?'" Fridley said.

It's the supposed lack of action by current and past superintendents in the Yuba City Unified School District on instances of reported abuse that form the basis of the suit just filed by Matiasic on behalf of his client.

Matiasic says the gym teacher never would have been in a position to grab his client's buttocks in class January if the school system was doing what it should have been.

"At a time when they should have been sounding the alarm, the administrators of this school district stuck their head in the sand," Matiasic said.

The suit references reported complaints about Whiteaker dating back to 1998.

"I have never seen a situation where a predator such as Jim Whiteaker was allowed to prey for the better part of 20 years," Matiasic said.

With Whiteaker's district file in hand, his attorney is unphased by what's been detailed like supporting evidence.

"I'm pretty comfortable in speculating that never were those allegations reported to anybody in authority, school authorities, police. I would bet money there's nothing to corroborate any of these allegations," said attorney Roberto Marquez.

His client is also a Sutter County supervisor. In addition to being sued Wednesday, groups who don't think Whiteaker is fit to represent the county say they received word their petition to recall him has been approved.

"If you do something that's personally gonna victimize me I'm gonna let people know," Fridley said.

She hopes this new lawsuit helps others find their voice.

When asked for a response to the filing, defendant and current YCUSD Superintendent Doreen Osumi said she could not comment on pending litigation.

She did send FOX40 a written statement which reads in part, "... What I can say is that our district has a very clear and very strict policy in place related to any conduct that calls student safety into question. It is our policy and our expectation that any such conduct be reported immediately and acted on decisively."