Three underage victims of sex abuse are set to receive $2.25 million in damages from a Union City school district after it was proven negligent to the offenses of a predatory longtime teacher.

Fifty-four-year-old Michael Howey, a former third-grade teacher at Alvarado Elementary School under the New Haven Unified School District, was arrested in May 2013 after being accused of fondling and molesting at least 10 of his female minor students.

In a statement, attorney Robert Allard revealed that one of Howey's victims testified to being “repeatedly kissed them on the cheek and lips in front of other students,” another student reported that the assailant "touched her private parts while he held her on his lap.”

It is claimed that Howey often coerced his female students to stay inside the classroom during breaks, during which he would exhibit inappropriate behavior. Most of the suspect's students were only eight years old during the time of these recurring incidents.

Prosecutors argued that the sexual abuse may have been prevented if the school district had only taken the multiple prior complaints against Howey more seriously. The East Bay Times reported that Howey's long-standing abuse went unreported for years because school officials swept them under the rug and ignored the signs of predatory behavior and child sexual assault.

Howey served at the Fremont City Jail starting May 2013 after he was apprehended from his Alameda home. At the time of his arrest, he was facing 17 counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child and 23 counts of fondling and molesting his female minor students. In 2015, the former teacher pleaded no contest to multiple charges of lewd acts with a child.

Court documents reveal that Howey was given a nine-year jail sentence and was given credit for nearly three years of time served in the county jail during his case.

In a lawsuit filed against the Union City district in 2017, Allard's camp alleged that Alvarado Elementary School and its staff were aware of Howey's history of sexual misconduct but did nothing to sanction him or report him to the authorities. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Howey was a 15-year veteran middle school teacher of the New Haven Unified School District before his arrest.

The 2017 lawsuit also claimed that there were previous reported incidents where the suspect exhibited lewd behavior toward students at schools in the district, but there is no evidence that Howey was ever disciplined for his misconduct. He also had no previous criminal record.

Howey was released from state prison in Riverside County on May 3, 2020, as confirmed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Classroom students school highschool A school district compensates young victims of long-standing sex abuse in classrooms. Shutterstock