Guardian sues school districts for teacher's sexual abuse

The guardian of a 15-year-old girl has introduced litigation against two Oregon school districts for failing to keep the student safe from a teacher now convicted of sexual abuse. The civil suit targets both the Eugene and Springfield school districts and is asking for $18.6 million for economic and psychological damages sustained in the incident.

The suit is a result of an inappropriate sexual relationship a 41-year-old teacher and cross-country coach had with the student. The teacher and coach pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual abuse, admitting to initiating the sexual relationship, which included intercourse.

In the lawsuit, the guardian alleges the teacher abused the girl 30 times over the course of a few months, using his position of power as her teacher and coach to gain her trust. After the incident, the student transferred out of the school because many of her fellow classmates blamed her for the teacher's arrest and sentence.

The guardian of the student claimed the Eugene School District, which includes the school where the relationship played out, failed to protect the girl from foreseeable harm. The student and her legal team also named the Springfield School District as a defendant, claiming the district witnessed inappropriate behavior by the teacher when he taught in that district and failed to warn other schools.

The lawsuit did not detail the man's alleged inappropriate behavior when he taught in the Springfield School District. The case was moved from a Lane County Circuit Court in Oregon to a federal court.

Of the money the prosecution is seeking, $10 million is for the emotional and psychological pain the student suffered as a result. Another $8 million is for economic damages. The teacher was also ordered to pay the victim $5,000 to go towards her counseling.

Source: The Register-Guard, "Teacher's sex crimes spark lawsuit," Karen McCoway, Oct. 21, 2011

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