An Oklahoma court has ordered an ex-middle school teacher to pay $1 million to a teenage boy she had a sexual relationship with, as reported by The Oklahoman.
A federal judge handed down the ruling against former grammar teacher Jennifer Caswell, 31. The unnamed boy and his father sued Caswell and the Hollis School District for emotional distress the boy suffered when the affair went public.
“[The victim] reports feelings of depression, isolation, and self-blame for the events that transpired,” US District Judge Robin J. Cauthron wrote. “He experienced humiliation when members of his community publicly chastised him and when strangers recognized him and questioned him about the scandal.”
The former English teacher appeared on Dr. Phil to detail the illicit affair with the boy—who was 15 at the time. In August 2015, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of second-degree rape, two counts of enticing a child, and one count of forcible sodomy. She will be eligible for release after completing 8.5 years of her sentence.
“I can’t say that we had ever considered it being that harsh,” Caswell’s attorney, David Cummins, told The Oklahoman shortly after sentencing. “It [the sentence] was somewhere in the neighborhood of at least twice what we anticipated.”
Caswell, who is serving her sentence at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, offered no defense to the latest lawsuit.
Cummins revealed that the Hollis School District is not liable for the $1 million judgment against Caswell. In late June, the school district paid out $125,000 to settle allegations that they helped to cover up Caswell’s sexual abuse, records obtained by The Oklahoman indicate. The boy’s father claimed that school officials allowed his son’s victimizer to resign while keeping her teaching credentials.
Judge Cauthron awarded the entire $1 million judgment to the boy. The family’s attorney, Bob Wyatt, said his clients brought forth the lawsuit to call attention to the epidemic of teachers committing sexual abuse.
Wyatt said: “We are pleased that the judge considered the outrageous behavior of the teacher and are pleased with the fact that the judge sent a message to teachers and schools across the state of Oklahoma that sexual abuse of a child by a teacher will not be condoned.”
[Featured Image: Oklahoma Department of Corrections]