Prairie Elementary Teacher Jailed for Child Molestation

September 20, 2016

Since the firm’s start nearly twenty years ago, attorneys Steve Estey and Mike Bomberger of Estey & Bomberger, LLP, have focused on assisting the young survivors of sexual molestation in schools. Current news stories are not uncommon, and even though we’re disturbed to hear about Prairie Elementary, we can’t say we’re surprised. Our attorneys are already helping one survivor and family victimized by 29-year-old Eric Ernest Echols, and as the investigation reveals additional victims, we will be in a position to help.

Support Systems – Two Types

There are two types of support needed during any stressful situation, and never more so than during the overwhelming stress of sexual abuse of a young family member or friend.

The first support category would be considered Family, Friends and Community. Regardless of the size of the family, the size of the community, and the family’s presence in the community, everyone comes together. This emotional support is and will be vital for years if not a lifetime.

The second support category is what we refer to as Legal and Systemic. Even given a strong and supportive family and community, the school system is designed to prefer business as usual. Left to its own devices, it is unlikely that a sexual molestation incident such as Eric Echols’, will result in any noticeable operational change, for example, additional background checks, better screening, better oversight, better reporting procedures, etc. Furthermore, the school system is designed to protect its own finances. A parent’s bank account is no match for the district’s financial resources and bureaucracy. Even if the school or school district were to admit the molestation, it’s extremely unlikely that it would offer financial restitution that’s in any way fair to the survivor or the family.

That being said, a strong law firm is a family’s best, most proactive resource to get what the family – and what the community – deserves on behalf of the child. It will use the law persistently and aggressively to try the case or negotiate the settlement, and will be the family’s guide down the path for the child’s best interests.

Devoted Team with Deep Resources — No Expenses Spared

Estey & Bomberger accepts only a few cases each year in order to focus with laser-like precision, on each case, on each family, and on each result.

We hire top professionals at our own expense (investigators, experts and other professionals) to pursue justice for each client in the strongest possible terms. We use all of our assets, including our research capabilities, to secure a record-breaking settlement or verdict.

Prairie Elementary School, Elk Grove Unified School District and Teacher’s Aide Eric Echols

Elk Grove Unified School District, in southern Sacramento County, is California’s fifth largest, and northern California’s largest. It is reported to have an annual budget of $600 million. It was founded in 1959 and Prairie Elementary is one of the 61 schools it oversees. The district is proactive in many ways, not the least of which is its Walktober program, during which employees and their families gear up to support the district’s campaign to prioritize walking.

Echols was a substitute teacher throughout the district, employed since 2011, in addition to being a teacher’s aide at Prairie. According to news reports, another employee notified Elk Grove Unified in July 2016 about Echols’ behavior over the course of the past year. District spokesperson Xanthi Pinkerton indicated that Echols had been placed on administrative leave immediately. Echols was arrested on Friday, September 16, 2016. According to at least one family, all parents at Prairie received a letter about the arrest, but, perhaps not surprisingly, we find no mention of the district’s action on the news feed of its web site.

Again, according to reports, Echols is at the Sacramento county jail, in place of nearly $1 million in bail, having been charged with one count of sexually suggestive conduct with a child and nine counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with six second-grade victims. Pinkerton elaborated that “… we take all allegations of misconduct very seriously as the safety of our students is our top priority”.

In an unfortunate twist of irony, it was another Eric Echols who authored a true story as the private investigator hired to investigate the child molestation case in The State of Georgia vs. Tonya Henke Craft. This Eric Echols book is called The Echols Files: Catoosa County Justice and to this Eric Echols we owe our thanks.

Parents send children to school with the implied understanding that the school will protect children from, among other things, molestation, and that the most vulnerable young family members will not be subject to staff, teachers or coaches who initiate any kind of inappropriate relationship. The entire community suffers when it endures a broken bond such as this, particularly when it is broken by a five-year school veteran like Echols. The community suffers further when we realize that, over his five year tenure, its unlikely that Echols molested just six students. We, as parents, grandparents, friends and community members, are no longer shocked when we look at statistics that show that many more students likely lie in Echols’ destructive wake.

But What’s the Next Step for Families of Children Abused by Echols?

If your child discloses, or if you suspect, abuse by Eric Echols or another teacher, staff member or coach at Prairie Elementary or any school in the Elk Grove Unified School District, please follow your conscience and schedule a no-charge meeting with Estey & Bomberger’s law team. Though it’s unfortunate that anyone must be skilled at school sexual abuse lawsuits, we are, and have been for nearly two decades. In fact, we have secured the highest individual results (both verdicts and settlements) for child survivors of sex abuse at California schools — $100 million plus in the last five years alone. We understand how to help you open the discussion as to whether to file a lawsuit against Mr. Echols, Prairie Elementary School and/or the Elk Grove Unified School District. Many find this to be an overwhelming process, and they benefit from the consistent, compassionate support from attorneys who have done this again and again.

24/7 Contact Us, Day or Night, Weekday, Weekend or Holiday

Please call us immediately at 800.925.0723 to begin the discussion with our school teacher sex abuse lawyers. It’s confidential, and free. After the initial discussion, you can decide whether to move forward, and, if so, how. If you decide to move forward with Estey & Bomberger, there is no fee to you. It’s called a contingency model, and it means we don’t get paid until we win the case and in no instance does money come out of your pocket.

We’ve been told that one of the most important things we provide is guidance, which helps in the healing process from a very difficult and sensitive period.