ADZ LAW, LLP AND DUMAS & VAUGHN TEAM UP ON Lawsuit Filed Against San Mateo SCHOOL DISTRICT, CITY OF SAN MATEO, AND THEATER COMPANY FOR CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE BY CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER ROY L. CASSTEVENS

ADZ LAW, LLP AND DUMAS &a…

A former student of San Mateo High School filed a lawsuit alleging claims for child sexual abuse by his former teacher and theater director, Roy L. Casstevens. Felix Montano sued the San Mateo Union High School District, the City of San Mateo, and Broadway by the Bay, alleging Casstevens was a paid employee or volunteer of these three Defendants when he sexually abused him from 1976 to 1979, starting when he was 14 years old.

Montano is now a 58-year-old professional dancer, model, and actor living in Los Angeles. He alleges Casstevens sexually abused him when Casstevens was his drama teacher at San Mateo High School and his theater director for community theater programs run by the City of San Mateo and Broadway by the Bay.

NEW STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS "WINDOW" ALLOWS SEX ABUSE LAWSUIT NOW

Montano filed the civil lawsuit under California’s new statute of limitations for child sexual abuse. That new law opened a “window” for past claims of sexual abuse, said attorney Gilion Dumas. The window opened on January 2, 2020 for three years, until December 31, 2022, and allows victims of child sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits even if their claims were barred by prior deadlines, said Dumas.

The lawsuit alleges that Montano met Casstevens the summer before Montano entered ninth grade in 1976. He had been a student at Burlingame Intermediate School, where he was bullied badly. That summer, he took a drama class Casstevens taught at San Mateo High School. Casstevens convinced Montano to attend San Mateo High School, partly due to its theater program.

During Montano’s years at San Mateo High School, the lawsuit alleges, Casstevens took him under his wing. Casstevens mentored Montano and got him involved in the high school and community theater programs. Casstevens used this grooming process to eventually seduce and sexually abuse Montano.

ABUSE BY DRAMA TEACHER AND COMMUNITY THEATER DIRECTOR WAS "OPEN AND NOTORIOUS"

“Because Montano was a minor when Casstevens had sex with him, Montano did not and could not legally consent to these acts under California law,” said Ashley Vaughn, another of Montano’s attorneys. “Casstevens’ sexual attention to Montano was open and notorious and the Defendants should have protected Montano from this dangerous predator,” said Vaughn.

The lawsuit alleges that students and participants in the community theater productions frequently made jokes about and commented on the relationship between Montano and Casstevens. For example, a stage set of one of the plays had “Roy + Felix” painted as graffiti, clearly visible to the audience, said Jessica Dayton. “Their sexual interactions were an open secret,” said Dayton.

Casstevens’ sexual abuse of Montano ended in 1979, when Montano moved to Los Angeles during his senior year of high school when he was 17 years old.

CASSTEVENS CRIMINALLY CONVICTED OF CHILD SEX ABUSE

In 1992, Casstevens was convicted of having sexually abusing a different male student at San Mateo High School in 1987. He was sentenced to one year in jail and five years’ probation. During the criminal investigation of that case, Casstevens admitted to admitted to sexually abusing multiple boys “during his teaching career” as far back as the 1970s, including Montano. Casstevens is currently a registered sex offender.

SURVIVOR FELIX MONTANO SPEAKS OUT ABOUT SEX ABUSE

Montano says he filed his lawsuit now because the new statute of limitations allows him to seek accountability from the school and theater that failed to protect him and others from a predatory child molester. “I hope to right the wrong that was done to me as a child,” said Montano. “I met Casstevens when I was being bullied and felt like a social outcast. He took advantage of my trust and friendship to satisfy his sexual appetites, causing me years of guilt and shame.”

Although California courts allow victims of sex abuse to file lawsuits as John or Jane Doe, Montano file the case using his real name to make a statement. “The abuse I suffered as a child was not my fault. I hope that by using my real name, other survivors will feel safe enough to come forward, whether they decide to use their names or not,” Montano said.

INVITATION FOR OTHER VICTIMS TO COME FORWARD

Roy Casstevens has been in the Bay Area his entire life and was very involved in theater. He was born in 1946 and majored in drama at San Francisco State in the late 1960’s. He was the new drama teacher at Mills High School in Millbrea in the fall of 1970 and was there for two years. By 1975, he was teaching drama and directing the theater program at San Mateo High School, where he was still working at the time of his arrest in 1992.

Casstevens was also active in community theater. In 1972 he transformed an old theater into the Broadway Theater Workshop and offered courses to adults, high school students, and middle school students. In 1973, he became the theater director for the San Mateo Community Theater Company, a program of the San Mateo Parks and Recreation Department. The SMCT staged its performances at the auditorium at San Mateo High School, later known as the San Mateo Performing Arts Center. This remained the home of the company until 2011. Starting in 1999, SMCT began changing its name to Broadway by the Bay. Until his arrest in 1992, Casstevens worked both for the high school and the community theater company.

From what we know of Casstevens’ involvement with San Mateo youth through the high school and community theater, there are likely many more victims. Now that the California statute of limitations gives them a new opportunity to seek justice, we hope they come forward to tell their stories.

If you have information about this case, Roy Casstevens, sexual abuse at San Mateo High School, or sexual abuse at San Mateo Community Theater (now Broadway by the Bay), we invite you to contact us through our website or call us at (650) 458-2300.

ABOUT DUMAS & VAUGHN

Dumas & Vaughn is a Portland-based firm representing survivors of sexual abuse and sexual assault in cases against organizations that failed to protect children. Dumas & Vaughn has represented survivors in cases against private and public schools; youth organizations like Boy Scouts and sports groups; the Assemblies of God, Catholic, Later Day Saint, Seventh-Day Adventists, Methodist, and other churches; Native American groups; foster care; and colleges.

Gilion Dumas was one of the trial attorneys in a 2010 sexual abuse trial in Portland against the Boy Scouts of America that resulted in a $19.9 million verdict against BSA. That trial also led to the public release of over 1,200 of BSA’s “Ineligible Volunteer” or “Perversion” files on accused child molesters that were used as evidence in the trial. Ashley Vaughn was jointly awarded the 2019 Arthur H. Bryant Public Justice Award by the Oregon Trials Lawyers Association for her work on a case involving sexual harassment in the Oregon legislature.

ABOUT JESSICA DAYTON

Jessica Dayton is a founding partner of ADZ Law, LLP in San Mateo. She is a Certified Family Law Specialist who dedicates her practice to representing victims of domestic violence and sexual assault with their civil legal needs, including restraining order, custody, and tort cases, as well as advising and advocating for victim’s rights. She presents regarding her practice areas locally and nationally, including to the National Center for Victims of Crime, the National Crime Victim Bar Association, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, and the San Mateo County Bar Association.

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