Sexual Abuse Trial To Begin Against Former BHHS Coach

A trial is scheduled to begin on July 24 in a civil lawsuit filed against the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD), Beverly Hills High School (BHHS) and former baseball coach Henry “Hank” Friedman regarding alleged incidents of sexual abuse from 1978 to 1981. The trial will take place in the Santa Monica Courthouse.

The case was filed by Lauren Siegman, who alleges that Friedman sexually assaulted and abused her some four decades ago while she was a student at BHHS. She further alleges that the school district failed to protect her and other victims and failed to take appropriate action against Friedman. 

“These allegations are now 45 years old, and it appears that Ms. Siegman wants to blame Hank Friedman and the school district for a lot of unrelated trauma that she has experienced over several decades,” Dana M. Cole, the attorney representing Friedman, told the Courier.

The attorneys representing BHUSD and Siegman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Friedman was charged with five criminal counts including sexual assault in 1981 following a police investigation, but later plead no contest to the lesser charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Although he initially faced a maximum sentence of one year in jail, he was ultimately sentenced to 500 hours of community service. 

Siegman’s First Amended Complaint seeks general damages against BHHS, BHUSD and Friedman as well as punitive damages against Friedman. She is represented by attorney Stephen Weisskopf.

Although the alleged incidents took place over 40 years ago, Siegman was able to file a civil suit in August 2020 because in October 2019 Governor Newsom passed Assembly Bill 218, which temporarily extended the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits regarding alleged childhood sexual abuse. That window closed in December 2022.

Two additional women who attended Beverly Hills High School used this window to file a separate civil suit against Friedman alleging that he sexually abused and assaulted them in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They are represented by attorney Brian Williams.

Plaintiff Elizabeth Ringer alleges that Friedman sexually abused her during the 1979 to 1980 school year. The second plaintiff, who filed the complaint as a Jane Doe to protect her identity, alleges that Friedman abused her over the course of the 1976 to 1977 school year. 

In both lawsuits, the women claim that Friedman inappropriately touched and measured their bodies on several occasions under the guise of completing a government study. This includes measuring the women’s breasts and molesting their bodies. 

The alleged abuse against Siegman began when she was a 15-year-old student in the 10th grade and continued, she claims, in her 11th and 12th-grade years. The majority of the abuse took place in what the complaint calls a “dungeon-like equipment room with no windows and limited access” in the basement of the school’s swim gym. 

According to the complaint, Siegman suffered “severe and permanent injuries including, but not limited to, physical and mental pain and suffering, severe emotional distress, psychological harm, past and future costs of medical care and treatment.”

In a July 13 statement, BHUSD Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy told the Courier, “A law enacted by the state of California (AB 218), which went into effect on January 1, 2020, extended the statute of limitations for reporting and filing claims related to the sexual abuse of minors. It affected churches, youth organizations, public schools, and other entities.

Subsequently, civil lawsuits were filed against the District seeking financial damages for alleged sexual misconduct by a former teacher that purportedly occurred in the late 1970s. This teacher has not been an employee of BHUSD for 40 years.

The District takes all allegations of sexual misconduct against students seriously. While the District trusts the legal process will provide justice to all parties involved, the safety and well-being of our students continue to be our highest priority. BHUSD encourages the entire school community, including employees, parents, and students, to report any concerning behavior as soon as it is identified to ensure immediate action can be taken.”