Former student files sex assault lawsuit against Berkeley school district

BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – A popular high school teacher is the focus of a sexual assault lawsuit in Berkeley.

The former student who alleges the assault spoke to KRON4 in an exclusive interview.

“As I got ready to take the photo, he came from behind without my consent or permission and started licking and biting my ear, which is what he’s doing in the photo.”

Rachel Phillips has filed a childhood sexual assault complaint against Mathew Bissell who she alleges abused her on campus starting in her freshman year in 1999 to her senior year in 2003.

Rachel says Bissel was her teacher and track coach.

“It was all on campus. Either in his classroom or in the gym, in the hallways.”

The East Bay School District is named in the lawsuit as well. Rachel’s attorney John Winer explains why.

“Because this teacher-coach sexually harassed dozens of women over 20-years… Berkeley High did nothing to stop it.”

Phillips says she reported the behavior to anyone who would listen as soon as it began in her freshman year.

“It was assistant coaches, head coaches, athletic director. An English teacher that I had my freshman year… The administration wasn’t there for me.”

KRON4 reached out to the Berkeley Unified School District Public Information Office to hear what they have to say about these allegations, but we received an auto-reply saying the office closed for Summer vacation.

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