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Doe v. Superior Court (First Baptist Church of San Jose)

California Court of Appeals, Sixth District

May 29, 2015

JANICE DOE et al., Petitioners,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Respondent, THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF SAN JOSE, Real Party in Interest.

Santa Clara County Superior Court No. 1-13-CV-251524, Hon. Carol W. Overton, Judge.

Page 240

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 241

COUNSEL

Laura Liccardo; Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, and Robert B. Allard for Petitioners.

Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith and Irene Takahashi for Real Party in Interest.

OPINION

Grover, J.

Petitioners Janice Doe and John Doe (parents) seek a writ of mandamus or prohibition directing respondent Superior Court of Santa Clara County to enter a new order overruling a demurrer to the seventh and eighth causes of action of parents’ first amended complaint (Complaint). Those causes of action allege that real party in interest The First Baptist Church of San Jose, doing business as Camp on the Hill (Camp), fraudulently concealed information from parents about a Camp employee’s suspected molestation of their daughter Jane Doe (minor) at its summer camp. We will grant the petition because under the facts of this case disclosure of suspected molestation by a Camp employee was within the scope of Camp’s duty to minor and her parents.

Page 242

I. TRIAL COURT PROCEEDINGS

Parents’ petition arises from a lawsuit they filed against Camp and a former Camp employee named Keith Edward Woodhouse. As pleaded in the Complaint, Camp operated a summer camp for children in the first through sixth grades. The Camp website stated: “We take the selection of our summer staff very seriously, so you can be confident that the staff that is chosen is whom we believe will best serve your family.” Woodhouse was employed by Camp at various times between 2003 and 2009.

Woodhouse provided child care at a school run by Camp in 2003 and 2004 but was terminated in 2004 by his supervisor for inappropriate interactions with young girls. During a camping trip at Lake Tahoe in approximately 2006, the same supervisor reportedly observed Woodhouse stroking a girl’s hair while she sat on Woodhouse’s lap.[1] The incident was reported to Child Protective Services but no official action was taken. Later in 2006, Woodhouse was rehired by Camp and began working at its summer camp, supervising young children. Camp staff had further concerns about Woodhouse’s behavior toward young girls at the summer camp, including showing inappropriate affection and allowing girls to sit on his lap.

Minor began attending the summer camp in 2006 when she was eight years old. In 2007, a Camp lifeguard noticed minor sitting on Woodhouse’s lap in the pool. Woodhouse was kissing minor on the neck. The lifeguard then heard minor complain that “something [is] ‘poking me in the butt.’ ” At that point Woodhouse left the pool with a noticeable erection and entered the bathroom. A male lifeguard followed Woodhouse into the bathroom and heard sounds consistent with masturbation. Despite being advised by the lifeguards upon his return from the ...


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