UPDATE, OCT. 7, 5 A.M.: One of the boys who was allegedly molested by David Michael Bruce is suing the since-retired junior high school drama teacher and the Anaheim Union High School District, according to the plaintiff's lawyer.
The complaint filed Friday in Orange County Superior Court accuses: Bruce of sexual assault and sexual battery; the Anaheim district and employees identified as John/Jane Does 1-50 of negligent supervision of students and negligent hiring, supervision and training; and all defendants of sexual harassment and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Bruce is accused of beginning to groom the boy when he was 12 in 2009 by giving gifts of food, school supplies and expensive art equipment. The district is faulted because the teacher and student were supposedly often alone together off campus and behind closed doors on campus as well as in front of district faculty and staff. The victim, who is represented by Thomas Cifarelli of The Cifarelli Law Firm in Irvine, openly received preferential treatment and roles in school productions in front of district employees, the complaint alleges. Bruce is accused of sexually assaulting, harassing and inappropriately touching the boy repeatedly, on and off the campus of Sycamore Junior High School and continuing on to Anaheim High School, at times during school hours. The behavior is claimed to have continued past the victim turning 18, and the complaint indicates the plaintiff did not learn of there being others making similar accusations until Bruce's arrest last month. The plaintiff claims to have suffered severe emotional distress, sexual assault and battery, emotional and psychological injuries, humiliation, mental anguish, anxiety, difficulty trusting others and other adverse effects from negligent supervision. No specific dollar amount is specified in the suit, but the alleged victim seeks “special damages” from both Bruce and the district for past, present and future medical and psychological care expenses, loss of earnings and future earning capacity and other possible economic losses to be revealed in court. “The victim's attorney Mr. Cifarelli encourages other victims to come forward in an effort to ensure that these horrific acts are addressed,” reads a statement from the law firm. “The lawsuit is aimed at ensuring the Anaheim school district changes its policies regarding supervising teacher interactions with students and responding to suspicious activity.” Representatives of the district and Bruce could not be reached for comment. As for Bruce's separate criminal case, he is out of custody on $1 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 29 at North Justice Center in Fullerton.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 6, 6:08 A.M.: When Anaheim Police arrested David Michael Bruce last month, two victims were underage boys who alleged they were molested by the then-drama teacher at Sycamore Junior High School. Since 65-year-old Bruce had been in a position of trust with young people, cops and prosecutors feared there may be more victims and urged others to come forward. Those fears have been realized; authorities now accuse Bruce of having sexually assaulted six boys.
Based on the allegations involving the first two boys, Bruce was arrested at his home in unincorporated Anaheim on Sept. 8 but made his $100,000 bail and was out of custody. Further investigation led to the allegations of the other four boys, and Bruce was arrested again on Sept. 30, according to Anaheim Police Sgt. Daron Wyatt.
The allegations date back to August 1996 and continue through June 2011, according to Deputy District Attorney Rick Zimmer, who claimed the victims were male students ages 11 to 14 at the time.
Bruce taught drama at Sycamore (where he is remembered fondly by former student Gustavo Arellano) from October 1981 until he retired in 2010 and continued working as a substitute teacher through 2013, Wyatt said.
The defendant now face nine counts of lewd acts on a child younger than 14, two counts of lewd acts on a child younger than 14 or 15 and, if convicted, up to 125 years to life in state prison.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.