Many high school girls from the Bay Area have come forward to share their respective tales of sexual abuse suffered in the hands of their teacher and coach, but administrators chose to turn a blind eye to the serious allegations.
More than two dozen female students of John O’ Connell High School in San Francisco have shared their experiences of being sexually assaulted by their physical education teacher and soccer coach Bob Gamino.
More shocking is what official documents reveal: that school officials already knew about the accusations of inappropriate behavior against Gamino as early as two years ago, but apparently did nothing about it.
One of the students who reported the teacher and coach’s sexual abuses is Alysha Stone, the former captain of the school’s soccer girls team. Stone graduated last May, but before doing so she made the difficult the decision to report her story to school administrators.
Stone shared: “There would be times when I would be injured, so I had to sit on the bench. And he would like put his hand on my thigh.” She also revealed another disgusting incident. She said: “He like grabbed right under my breast on top of my ribcage and like, why would you grab there?”
It took Stone a whole school year before she mustered enough guts to reveal her story and report on Gamino’s sexually abusive behavior. Just like many cases of sexual harassment, Stone also shared that her bad experience with Gamino started with verbal harassment. She recalled it happened during the fall.
Stone said: “Like, ‘Oh you look beautiful today’. Or ‘you have a great body’. And I was like those aren’t things you normally say to a student.”
Other students have reported similar experiences of physical and verbal harassment abuses suffered in the hands of Gamino. Documents from the district confirm that 30 girls came forward to report Gamino’s sexual assaults against them.
Gamino was a teacher in San Francisco public schools for 23 years, majority of which he served as PE teacher and soccer coach. More recently, he also worked as an athletic director at O’ Connell High School.
Gamino established a father-figure like personality among the students. His victims all say the same: he would work to develop and win their trust and would normally take about a year before making his sick, perverted moves on them.
Shocking thing is documents show the school has known about the accusations against Gamino for two years but chose to do nothing about it. Current officials now point to the school’s former principal Mark Alvarado for failing to take appropriate steps on the case. Even before Stone and the other girls came forward with their grave accusations against Gamino, Alvarado already admonished Gamino for inappropriately touching two African-American female students two years ago. Alvarado didn’t report the incident involving Gamino to the district, thereby allowing Gamino to keep working in the school, and spending much time alone with the female students.
Students also said the school never encouraged them to go to the police to report Gamino. They said they were at a loss as to what to do after reporting the sexual assaults to the school, and the school officials acted rather indifferently to their allegations against Gamino.
Gamino voluntarily retired this summer, and continues to keep his full health benefits and salary from the district. Gamino is also considering going back to teaching and coaching again. Since there’s no charges filed against him, there’s no legal impediment for him to resume teaching and coaching.
Mark Alvarado was moved to Everett Middle School for his failure to report Gamino. He still holds administrative duties in his new school. Failing to report the abuse of a student is a crime, but Alvarado is also not facing any crimes right now.
One anonymous female student victimized by Gamino, too, asks the question: “If he can get away with it, who else can get away with it?” She also said district and school officials owe them and their parents an apology and an assurance that they will be doing everything to prevent similar abuses from happening again.