Janitor sentenced to 14 years in prison for molesting eight schoolgirls after 'gaining their trust with kindness and candy'
Michael Anthony Barry was sentenced to 14 years in prison for inappropriately touching girls on school property where he worked for over 20 years
A lawsuit was announced against the Bassett Unified School District on Thursday by families of students who were sexually abused by a janitor in the City of Industry.
The lawsuit was discussed by parents of the victims at a 10 am news conference with their lawyers. Seven of the eight molestation victims are being represented by attorneys Luis Carrillo and Michael Carrillo, who, together with the parents, are accusing the school district of negligence, ABC7 reports.
It is reported that 60-year-old Michael Anthony Barry molested at least eight girls at Torch Middle School before he was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Tuesday. According to court documents, the incidents occurred on campus during school hours between August 2016 and May 2017, although Barry had worked for the district for more than 20 years.
He reportedly lured the victims with kindness and candy. "Mr. Barry, he would befriend the victims and be very nice to the victims, and he would do things like offer them candy and just be very kind to them, and he gained their trust as a result,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Todd Deeds told reporters last year, according to local reports.
The parents, who expressed anger over what was allowed to happen to their children, asked the media not to show their faces at the news conference. One mother, who identified herself only as Maria, said, "My daughter, even in hot weather, she would wear a sweater, hoodie with the pockets right here. He stuck his hand inside the sweater and went down on her."
During Barry's sentencing on Tuesday, John, father to one of the victims, surprised everyone present in the courtroom with what he had to say to Barry's family that was also present. "I want to say I'm sorry to you guys. I want to say I'm sorry because you guys are also a victim as we are a victim. They're going to suffer because they lost a father, a grandfather, an uncle, a family member," he said.
The school district released a statement on Barry's sentencing without touching upon the imminent lawsuit. "It is our hope that the 14-year sentence handed down today provides closure to the victims and allows our community a chance to recover together," the statement read. "Bassett Unified remains committed to ensuring the safety and security of all of our students, and we are determined to shield our students from acts of any kind that put them at risk."
The parents who spoke out on Thursday asserted that Barry's 14-year sentence was not nearly enough for the lifetime of damage their daughters will now have to deal with.