Seven victims of a former Kynoch Elementary School counselor have filed lawsuits against Marysville Joint Unified School District and Marysville First Presbyterian Church.
William Babcock, now 72, pleaded guilty to eight counts of child molestation and was sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2002 for sexually abusing students at Kynoch Elementary School while serving as a counselor.
An investigation into Babcock after a victim’s guardian reported misconduct to police led to Babcock being arrested in April 2002. He had worked at the school since 1993. In August 2002, Babcock pleaded guilty to eight counts of committing lewd acts with children under 14.
Several civil lawsuits were filed in Yuba County Superior Court against the school district and Babcock. According to Appeal archives, the district settled a case with three students in August 2004 for $400,000 spread over 15 years. In November 2004, the district settled with another student for $87,000. In September 2006, the district settled with a victim for $125,000.
Cristina Nolan is an attorney with the law firm Manly, Stewart and Finaldi. She is the lead attorney on two cases filed recently by the firm on behalf of seven victims. Nolan said the suits would not be possible if not for the passage of AB 218, which suspends the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse claims.
The first case was filed in February 2020 and involves one victim who was a student at Kynoch and attended First Presbyterian Church in Marysville, where Babcock was a member and provided counseling services. According to the lawsuit, the victim was abused at the school and church premises between 1996 and 1998 when the victim was between the ages of nine and 11.
Nolan said that case is in the discovery process. Her office is waiting on a ruling from a judge after a motion was filed by Nolan for the district to provide more discovery.
The second case was filed on July 20 with six victims named as plaintiffs and the MJUSD named as the defendant. Nolan said the district has to be served and it is still early in the process. Hearings for both cases are scheduled for Oct. 19 and Nov. 23 in Yuba County Superior Court. Babcock is listed as a defendant in both civil cases.
A suit separate from the two Nolan’s firm filed is also ongoing and was brought by another victim against MJUSD and Babcock in June.
“The MJUSD does not comment on matters related to pending litigation,” MJUSD Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Services Ramiro Carreón said in an email. “The lawsuits have been assigned to legal counsel to address the complaints and claims within each. The MJUSD has been working with its team of attorneys to respond to these legal matters in ways that best protects district resources, while ensuring that student safety and well-being are always its top priority. “
Nolan said the request in the suits is for the cases to go before a jury. She said it is too early to know what kind of monetary settlement the victims may be entitled to.
First Presbyterian Church and its attorney Michael J. LeVangie could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Babcock is currently serving his 22-year prison sentence in San Quentin State Prison. He has been incarcerated since being admitted into the prison on Oct. 18, 2002. According to the California Department of Corrections website, Babcock will be eligible to apply for parole next month.