$1 million judgment against Oklahoma teacher who had sex with middle school student

Aug. 14, 2017
Jennifer Caswell, who was a teacher in the Hollis school district, is serving a 10-year prison term.

A federal judge has awarded a $1 million judgment to a teen-aged boy in Oklahoma who suffered emotional distress because of a sexual relationship with his English teacher.

The Oklahoman reports that U.S. District Judge Robin J. Cauthron made the ruling in a lawsuit brought by the boy's family against former Hollis, Okla., middle school teacher Jennifer Caswell, 31.

The boy, who was in eighth grade, and his father sued Caswell and the Hollis district in 2015 over the inappropriate relationship, which included sex in her classroom.

"He experienced humiliation when members of his community publicly chastised him and when strangers recognized him and questioned him about the scandal," the judge wrote.

The judgment was awarded to the boy as compensation for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

"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," said Bob Wyatt, an attorney for the boy.

Caswell was sentenced in 2015 to serve 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to rape and other sex crimes.

In her ruling, Cauthron wrote that the boy went from being a well-liked star athlete at his school to the subject of ridicule once news spread of the sexual relationship between him and the teacher.

Because of the negative public attention he received, the boy now goes to school in a different town, where he is isolated from his family, has few friends and couldn't play sports last school year.

"In this case, a teacher abused her position of trust and authority to sexually violate a young man who will face the emotional effects of the encounter for the rest of his life," Cauthron said. "(The boy) is receiving continued professional counseling services, and these professionals predict he will have future problems accepting female companionship and trusting female authority figures."

Earlier this year, Hollis Public Schools agreed to pay $125,000 to settle allegations that the school system tried to cover up the sexual abuse.

The school district is not liable for any of the $1 million judgment against Caswell.

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