Jennifer Caswell $1 million award: An Oklahoma judge rules that a middle school’s teacher’s teen victim is left with emotional distress after sexual encounters.
Jennifer Caswell a former middle school teacher has been ordered by an Oklahoma federal judge to pay a former pupil she had sex with $1 million for causing the boy emotional distress.
The ruling comes as Caswell is currently serving out a ten year sentence for having sex with the victim which saw the woman plead guilty to second degree rape and related charged.
At the time of her 2015 sentencing, the former Hollis Middle School teacher had been sentenced to 15 years prison, with five of those years suspended for her part in having half a dozen sexual encounters with the then 15 year old boy whom the teacher blamed for ‘seducing her’.
At the time of Caswell’s sentencing, the former teacher’s victim and his father filed a civil suit against the woman and the Oklahoma school district which had employed her.
Two years later, Judge Robin Cathron ruled in the boy’s father, awarding Caswell’s former victim $1million for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Noted the judge in his opinion: ‘the child reported feelings of depression, isolation and self-blame,’ and that he felt humiliated after news of his sexual relationship with the teacher spread.
Plaintiff’s attorney Bob Wyatt said his clients were pleased with the outcome of the lawsuit, which they hoped would send a message to teachers and schools across the state that sexual abuse perpetrated by educators will not be tolerated, reported NewsOK.com.
According to the ruling, Caswell’s victim had gone from being a popular athlete to the subject of mockery, which eventually forced him to enroll in school in a different town, where the boy has no family and few friends.
‘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 wrote.
The judge noted the teen boy receiving counseling to deal with the trauma of the abuse, with the boy’s therapists expecting that he will have problems in the future trusting women in general, and female authority figures in particular.
Reacting to the $1m payout ruling, Caswell’s defense attorney said their client had no means to pay the $1million judgement, but was unlikely to appeal the verdict.
Bob Wyatt, the victim’s lawyer, has acknowledged the money is likely ‘uncollectible.’ while adding, ‘and that’s sad because of the damage that truly happened.’
The ruling comes after Hollis Public Schools agreed to pay the former student $125,000 to settle a separate lawsuit that accused the district of covering up Casewell’s sexual abuse.
The family’s suit had claimed that the boy was told to keep his mouth shut about his relationship with Caswell.
The boy’s parents said the illicit relationship led to their son’s school grades suffering along with his life outside of school.
The victim’s father, a pastor, initially sought $1million in damages from the school after alleging that at least two people saw Caswell engaged in sexual acts with his son in her classroom.
Nevertheless, that information was never reported to him, the police or the Department of Human Services.
Instead, only the administrator was told and Caswell was ultimately allowed to resign in 2014 with the understanding she could keep her teaching credentials, according to the lawsuit.
Appearing on the Dr Phil Show, the middle school teacher insisted she was ‘not a rapist’,blaming her victim for making the first move.
Told the woman, ‘I didn’t force anything. I didn’t manipulate. I didn’t take advantage.’
Caswell, who has a 6-year-old son, first becomes eligible for parole in six and a half years.
After her release, she will be required to register as a sex offender.
After she resigned in April 2014 with her credentials intact, Caswell continued to pursue the boy, having sex with him in a vehicle, her house and the boy’s father’s house, according to prosecutors.
After following the 15-year-old 650 miles to Mississippi, where he had been sent to stay with his mother, the boy began cooperating with authorities.
During her appearance on the Dr Phil Show, Caswell suggested it was the boy’s persistence that led to them having sex in her classroom.
She told Dr Phil: ‘He came in, I was working on things, he kept coming closer to me and I would kind of walk away to the other part, you know another room, another areas of the classroom and he just walked up to me and then he kissed me. And then it just kind of went from there.’
‘I was walking around the classroom straightening up the desks and he came and I guess it was standing up,’ Caswell said.
The 31-year-old admitted that she did not tell the student to stop what he was doing.
She said: ‘I kept on saying, ”No you know we can’t do this. No, no, no.”.
‘He wasn’t forcing me, I mean, I couldn’t easily just walked out of my classroom, but I didn’t.
‘But I was resisting because I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t.’
Caswell said that following sex with the student, she felt ‘terrified’.
‘I just couldn’t believe I had done something like that,’ she added.
Of note, the sexual encounter took place within six weeks of Caswell having her teaching certificate. She was arrested two months later.
Caswell blamed her failing marriage with her now ex-husband, as well as the culture in her small town, contributing to the unlawful relationship.
Told the former teacher: ‘I felt very unwanted by my husband. I was with him for ten years and I was never complimented. We never held hands or were physical.’
The former English teacher said she was flattered and came to enjoy the attention, flirting and compliments she received from the student.
Telling Dr Phil: ‘He was very flirty and I should have put a stop to it and I didn’t. I wasn’t used to the attention.’
The former teacher’s sentiments perhaps not surprisingly reflect the overriding sentiment that only males can be sexual predators and the notion that a woman under the veneer of her gender can assert that she is the real victim….this despite evidence of many female teachers abusing their position of authority, adulthood and trust to subjugate their victim.