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Judge awards $1 million to boy who was raped by teacher

Jennifer Caswell 

Jennifer Caswell 

An Oklahoma City federal judge has ruled that a teenage boy's emotional distress from a highly publicized sexual relationship with his English teacher is worth $1 million.

U.S. District Judge Robin J. Cauthron awarded the judgment against former middle school teacher Jennifer Caswell, 31.

The boy and his father sued Caswell and the small western Oklahoma school district of Hollis in 2015 over the inappropriate relationship, which included sex in her classroom.

"(The boy) reports feelings of depression, isolation, and self-blame for the events that transpired," 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 Oklahoman is not identifying the boy or his family, because he is the victim of a sex crime.

The judgment was awarded to the boy for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Cauthron awarded no damages to the boy's father.

Bob Wyatt, an attorney for the boy and his father, said his clients wanted to sue to bring attention to the problem of sexual abuse by teachers.

"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," Wyatt said.

Caswell was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sex crimes in 2015, following a television appearance on the "Dr. Phil" talk show to discuss her illicit relationship with the boy.

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 of the sexual relationship between him and the teacher broke.

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, the judge said in her ruling.

"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 claims that the school participated in covering up the sexual abuse.

The school district is not liable for any of the $1 million judgment against Caswell, said David Cummins, an attorney for Caswell.

Cummins said his client will be in prison for the next several years and has no money to pay the boy. Still, it's unlikely Caswell will appeal the $1 million judgment, he said.

Caswell decided not to offer any defense to the lawsuit. She is serving her prison sentence at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud.

"The reality is that the money is probably uncollectable," Wyatt said, "and that's sad because of the damage that truly happened."

Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›