A number of former Berkeley High School students have come forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment against former Berkeley High teacher, Matthew Bissell. Our Oakland-based law firm is collecting reports on sexual harassment, grooming, and assault at Berkeley High School and other Bay Area schools. If you’ve experienced inappropriate conduct at the hands of a teacher or administrator, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Contact us for a confidential, free consultation with one of our attorneys.
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Our experienced sexual assault legal team is available to discuss your rights. All of our consultations are provided at no-cost and are strictly confidential.
Lawsuit Filed Against Bissell and Berkeley Unified School District, Alleging Sexual Assault and Negligence
A former Berkeley High student filed a lawsuit in June 2021 describing repeated sexual assault and harassment by chemistry and physical education teacher, Matthew Bissell. According to the lawsuit, the district also acted negligently by failing to protect her, despite repeated complaints to school employees.
The former student told Berkeleyside that Bissell’s unwanted touching and advances began her freshman year in 1999 and continued “nearly every day” until she graduated. Even after telling teachers, coaches, and the athletic director, Bissell’s behavior continued; “at a certain point,” the former student said, “you stop reporting.” She fell into depression and began turning to drugs and alcohol. Even to this day, she says she becomes sick to her stomach thinking about the interactions, and has developed a deep mistrust of others outside of her immediate circle.
Title IX Report Uncovers Pervasive Culture of Sexual Assault at Berkeley High
Berkeleyside reports that Berkeley Unified School District began conducting a Title IX investigation and report in 2020 in response to multiple complaints by former Berkeley High students. The investigation concluded that Matthew Bissell had “engaged in a years-long pattern of inappropriate behavior and that his conduct and comments were ‘both severe and pervasive.’” Shortly after, Bissell was placed on leave. Following the release of the report, the former student told the San Francisco Chronicle that:
“It felt like I was heard for the first time…I was so pissed that they haven’t figured out a way to make Berkeley High a safe place for its students — period.”
In an Instagram account, many other Berkeley High students and employees came forward with concerns about Bissell’s conduct, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The concerns ranged from comments regarding students’ clothing, to touching students on the butts, hips, waists, or other areas of the body.
Resources for sexual assault survivors
Please know that you’re not alone. There are people ready to listen and help.
- RAINN National Sexual Assault Survivor Resources
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- National Sexual Assault Hotline (confidential 24/7 support): 1-800-656-4673
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Our team is always available to answer any legal questions survivors may have about their rights or potential claims. To get a free and confidential consultation, call 1-866-511-6647.
Our Firm’s Experience Representing Survivors of Sexual Assault
Our Oakland-based law firm has decades of experience in complex litigation and years of experience representing survivors of sexual harassment. For example, a court recently approved our $73 million settlement in compensation on behalf of women sexually assaulted by UCLA gynecologist Dr. James Heaps. We are also pursuing sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America, and are currently investigating sexual harassment claims against the Washington Football Team.
Our attorneys have received numerous honors for their work, including “Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California,” “Top Women Lawyers in California,” “Consumer Protection MVP,” “Best Lawyers in America,” and “California Lawyer Attorney of the Year.”
Our Sexual Assault and Sexual Discrimination Attorneys
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