Settlement of group’s sex-abuse suit won’t slow mission ‘to protect children,’ ex-La Jolla High student says

A lawsuit by a group of former La Jolla High School students alleging sexual abuse by a now-retired teacher has been settled.
A lawsuit by a group of former La Jolla High School students alleging sexual abuse by a now-retired teacher has been settled, with terms not disclosed.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The lawsuit, filed in 2020, alleged that a now-retired LJHS physics teacher groped five underage students between 2003 and 2015.


One in a group of former La Jolla High School students who alleged in a lawsuit that a now-retired teacher sexually abused them says the “life-altering experience” motivated her to try to protect others.

A settlement in the lawsuit against the teacher, a former principal and the San Diego Unified School District was announced this week. Terms were not disclosed.

The suit, filed in 2020, alleged that physics teacher Martin Teachworth groped five underage students between 2003 and 2015. Teachworth retired in 2017 and his teaching credential was revoked two years later.

Loxie Gant, one of four former students identified by name as plaintiffs in the suit (the other is identified only as Jane Doe), told the La Jolla Light on April 26 that she was moved to take action following the birth of her first child in 2015.

“Since becoming a mom ... I realized that in order to change things, I needed to advocate for myself and stop the cycle,” Gant said.

In the years that followed her La Jolla High School experience, Gant became an advocate for children, working with California Assembly members to draft bills and serving on various caucuses.

“Being able to help others going through similar situations has brought me joy and put me on a new career path,” she said. “I can take what I have learned from going through this and help other victims and change the landscape of institutional child abuse.”

According to court documents, “during a physics class on or around February of 2003, [Teachworth] squeezed Gant’s buttocks two times while she was standing between a desk and a bookcase. She felt violated by her trusted teacher.”

The documents say Gant reported the incident to another teacher and spoke with then-Principal Dana Shelburne.

“When Gant spoke to Shelburne, he asked her if she was reporting this because of a grade and whether this was worth taking down a man’s career,” the suit claims. “He also asked her whether she was so advising him ‘because of the others,’ acknowledging that other students had also reported Teachworth’s inappropriate behavior.”

Shelburne was reassigned in 2013 to be a campus construction liaison. He is not listed as a member of the school’s current staff.

The earliest incident outlined in the lawsuit was an allegation that Teachworth put his hands down the back of a female student’s pants in 2003, which was reported to San Diego Unified officials.

The lawsuit alleges that complaints piled up against Teachworth but he continued teaching until his retirement and no concrete disciplinary action was taken against him.

He was removed from his classroom for two weeks in 2016 and placed on paid administrative leave after a student reported that he made advances on her, but he returned to the classroom without any further reprimand, the complaint states.

The district said in a statement this week that a review of its policies for handling sexual assault allegations “has resulted in changes and improvements that have since been implemented.”

Officials added that the district will “continue to review and update these policies annually to remain current and consistent with the latest improvements in best practices and laws. The district respects the courage of the claimants in this matter for speaking out and remains committed to making the safety of its students a top priority.”

District representative Maureen Magee did not immediately respond to questions from the Light.

Lauren Cerri, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement, “There was real harm done to these women and they’ve been validated.”

Though the lawsuit has been settled, “my work is not done,” Gant said. “Preventing this from happening again and helping arm parents with the information to advocate for their children has become my mission.”

As part of that, Gant said she has worked to help elect people to local school boards who “will do a lot to change the conversation … and make sure steps are being taken to protect children in the future.”

For parents to prevent such incidents, she added, “you need to educate yourselves and your children about consent and using their voice when an incident occurs.” ◆


4:58 p.m. April 27, 2023: This article was updated with additional information and comments.