By HEATHER CATHLEEN COX
Jose Naftali Mendez Jr., a former San Benito CISD teacher who has been repeatedly accused of inappropriate behavior with children, is the subject of a suit filed against SBCISD and its Superintendent of Schools, Antonio G. Limón, by the parent of a female Landrum Elementary School student allegedly molested by Mendez.
The suit specifically alleges that the school district and Limón “violated rights guaranteed to (the victim) by the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution because when (stated actors knowingly placed) an individual in danger, the due process clause of the constitution has been held to render them accountable for foreseeable injuries that result from their conduct.”
Mendez, who previously worked at Frank Roberts Elementary, was placed on administrative leave by Limón in 2011, after Mendez was first accused of assaulting a child that October. Limón reportedly reinstated Mendez later that month.
In May 2012, Mendez was accused of assaulting another child. He was again placed on administrative leave and ultimately reinstated, at which time he was reportedly transferred to Landrum Elementary by Limón.
According to the allegations made against Mendez, the victim (who will remain nameless because the San Benito News does not identify victims of child abuse) has alleged that “Mendez would massage her shoulders, chest and back with his hands, while whispering in her ear that she was beautiful and that he loved her.”
The lawsuit further states, “He would commit other unwelcomed acts while (the victim) was trying to attend to her academic studies…. Joe Mendez would turn the lights off to show the class educational videos…(and sit behind the victim) in his chair with his legs spread open, wherein he would commence the fondling of the child.”
The alleged assaults caused the victim to suffer emotional and mental distress, according to the complaint filed by the victim’s parent. The victim “began cutting herself when Mendez began fondling and molesting her…she became depressed, secluded, emotionally distressed, antisocial and disturbed from the unwelcomed fondling and molestation.” On one occasion, the victim reportedly tried unsuccessfully to hang herself.
The victim was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder by her psychiatrist. The suit further alleges that SBCISD “refused to provide any type of assistance for psychological assessment or treatments to help (the victim) cope with the emotional distress and mental anguish associated with the (aforementioned) incidents.”
Mendez was suspended with pay, pending the investigation’s outcome.
The victim’s attorney, Robert L. Steindel, has requested trial by jury and the maximum financial settlement allowed by law, which would include legal fees and court costs.
Regarding the specifics of this case, Limón declined comment, and stated he has not seen the lawsuit.
Attempts to reach Steindel and Mendez for comment were unsuccessful as of press time Friday.