Lawsuit notes renowned head coach failed to respond to assistant’s sexual abuse

On behalf of a former student, Lieff Cabraser has filed a lawsuit against the elite Branson School in Marin County based on allegations that the school failed to protect her from Richard Manoogian, an assistant boys basketball coach who sexually abused her in the late 1980s. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Branson alumna Erica Goldman, now 47, claims that the head coach Jonas Honick— a “local legend” who remains in the role today — knew about the assaults and yet did not act. Goldman claimed she told Honick at least ten times about Manoogian’s abuse, but throughout he responded that she should keep quiet, or else he might lose his job.

As the complaint notes, Honick’s negligence in his reactions to Goldman’s repeated accusations was particularly damaging, as he had become someone she thought she could trust. According to Goldman, rather than reporting the abuse to authorities, Honick instead protected Manoogian and normalized the sexual abuse, even inviting Manoogian and her to “hang out together” with Honick alone at Honick’s house, and telling them he knew they were involved.

Goldman, now 47, told current head basketball coach Jonas Honick about Manoogian’s abuse multiple times while she was a student and at least 10 times soon after she graduated, according to her civil complaint. She said Honick, who has won several state championships in his long tenure running the successful boys program, responded that she should keep quiet, or else the head coach could lose his job.

The lawsuit is the latest response to what is purported to be decades of abuse allegations against Branson. In 2019, the school published a report put together by an independent law firm commissioned by Branson detailing abuse allegations by male staff members against female students from the 1970s to 2010s. The report named four men, including Manoogian, whom investigators concluded had engaged in sexual misconduct with 10 girls, but left out any allegations against Jonas Honick. Goldman and her attorney, Lieff Cabraser partner Kelly Dermody, were upset that Honick’s name was not included in the report and that he continues to coach.

“There’s been a complete absence of consequences for the last 30 years,” noted Dermody. “The only person to suffer consequences is Erica.”

Read the full article on The San Francisco Chronicle website (subscription).

Learn more about the Branson School student sexual abuse lawsuit.

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