An Oklahoma school district has paid $125,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from an English teacher’s affair with an eighth-grade student, according to a report.
Hollis Public Schools forked over the settlement to the victim’s family, which accused the district in the federal suit of covering up Jennifer Caswell’s sexual abuse, the Oklahoman reported.
Caswell, 31, who taught English, pleaded guilty to rape and other charges in 2015 and is now serving a mandatory 8 1/2 years of a 10-year sentence.
The family sued for $1 million for pain, suffering and the boy’s mental and emotional anguish, claiming the school allowed Caswell to resign but keep her teaching credentials.
“The truth is that this has a terrible effect on a child,” said Charles Watts, who represents the victim’s family. “You can expect in his future life that he will have a hard time with relationships.”
The father of the boy, who was then 15 when the abuse was uncovered, said in a sworn deposition that high school principal Marty Webb accused the teen of lying and told the dad his son “needed to keep his mouth closed” when rumors started to fly about the illicit relationship.
The dad also testified that when he refused to paddle his son as punishment for spreading the lies, the boy was suspended for a week.
The school denied any wrongdoing.
“The school district responded to the information it had — which was very limited — in an appropriate way,” said school attorney Andy Fugitt.
The portion of the family’s lawsuit against Caswell for intentional infliction of emotional distress is set to go to trial in federal court sometime this year.
Caswell has chosen not to defend herself in the lawsuit.
“I suspect she will never be a wealthy woman to pay our clients,” said Watts. “My clients felt like she really did them wrong.”