Former El Segundo High School water polo coach and teacher George Harris Jr. sexually harassed and molested minor-aged male high school players between 2002 and 2010, three former El Segundo players allege in a lawsuit.
Harris routinely sexually harassed players at practices and at school and in late night telephone calls in which he encouraged them to masturbate, pressured them to share details about their sexual relationships with their girlfriends, and provided them with alcohol, marijuana and pornography in attempts to induce them to having sex with him, according to the lawsuit filed against Harris and the El Segundo Unified School District in Los Angeles Superior Court.
A former player who attended El Segundo High between 2005-09 alleges in the lawsuit that a parent of another student complained to the school’s principal about Harris’ continued sexual harassment and grooming, but that the school district took no action “to monitor, supervise or otherwise investigate Harris and prevent the kind of harassment and abuse (the player) was subjected to as a result of his being under the control of” Harris.
Harris, according to the lawsuit, “used his position of trust and authority to repeatedly sexually harass and abuse his students, including (the three players)…by engaging in acts that include, but are not limited to: inquiring about his students’ teenage romances and sexual activities, including whether they were still virgins; suggesting his students engage in specific sexual games and activities with their girlfriends; making explicit requests for sexual activities from his students; carrying on lengthy phone conversations to groom his students for future sexual abuse; serving his students alcohol and marijuana at his private residence as a seduction technique; and engaging in sex acts with his students, including but not limited to manual stimulation of genitalia to orgasm.”
Harris retired unexpectedly shortly before the start of the 2009-2010 school year. At the time, Harris and the school cited health concerns for his stepping away.
“Due to whatever the condition is, he has opted to take the semester off,” El Segundo athletic director Steve Shevlin told the Daily News at the time. “The good news is that George is back home and resting, and that’s a good sign that he’s on the road to recovery.”
Harris did not respond to a request for comment.
El Segundo Unified School District superintendent Melissa Moore issued a statement in response to the lawsuit.
“The El Segundo Unified School District is aware of the pending lawsuit. The district takes all allegations of misconduct very seriously; however, we cannot comment on the specifics of the lawsuit or the associated allegations as this is an ongoing legal matter. The El Segundo Unified School District fosters a culture that promotes the health, safety, and well-being of all students and staff. Creating a safe and respectful environment is our number one priority. We appreciate your understanding at this time.”
Harris, a 23-year employee of the El Segundo Unified School District, joined the El Segundo High water polo coaching staff in 1991. He took over as head coach in 1997 and led El Segundo to the playoffs in 10 of his 11 seasons, reaching the CIF finals three times.
Harris also served as the USC football press box announcer for more than 20 years.
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A former player who attended El Segundo between 2002 and 2006 alleges in the lawsuit that Harris invited the student to Harris’ private residence on or around New Year’s Eve and provided him with Old Crow whiskey, pouring the drink into a Gatorade bottle so the underage boy could carry the drink in public.
After giving the student a gift and continuing to provide him with alcohol, Harris propositioned the player according to the lawsuit. Feeling “trapped,” the student eventually agreed to manually stimulate Harris’ genitals using a sex toy, according to the filing.
All three players claim in the suit that they were subjected to lengthy late night telephone calls in which Harris asked about their sexual relations with girls and encouraged them to masturbate, even suggesting various techniques.
The suit also alleges that El Segundo water polo players were required to inform Harris of when they lost their virginity.