Riverside schools to pay nearly $14 million to sex abuse victims of elementary aide

Fernando Figueroa
(Riverside Police Department)

Ten elementary school students who were sexually assaulted by a former technology aide will receive a $13.7-million settlement from the Riverside Unified School District to settle numerous lawsuits, lawyers for the children said Wednesday.

The students were molested at Liberty Elementary School by Fernando Figueroa, who was criminally indicted on 25 felony counts for abusing 11 children between 2014 and 2017. The children ranged in age from 7 to 11 at the time of their abuse. After his arrest in 2017, he subsequently pleaded guilty to three of the felony counts.

Figueroa was sent to prison in December 2019 for 20 years to life after admitting that he “committed lewd and lascivious acts upon 11 different victims on different dates.”

Attorneys for the children alleged the district was aware of allegations against Figueroa as early as the 2014-15 school year and multiple Riverside school district employees became aware of complaints by one of the victims about Figueroa’s inappropriate touching. That same child’s mother also contacted the school’s principal to complain, but no school officials acted to protect the children, according to one of the lawsuits.


“This is the dictionary description of a school district that has failed in its most basic and vital obligations, to protect its students,” said Saul Wolf, one of the victims’ attorneys. “It is abundantly clear that the corrupt culture at the highest levels of RUSD and Liberty Elementary School allowed a serial predator to run amok at an elementary school and molest vulnerable children at will.”

The school district did not immediately return requests for comment.

During the case proceedings, attorneys solicited testimony in the civil case that revealed that Figueroa was often seen hugging students and found alone with children behind locked, closed doors in classrooms with the lights off.

The lawsuits also alleged the district “failed to conduct an adequate background check of Figueroa,” who had been accused of sexual misconduct with a family member before he was hired.