An Oklahoma father’s lawsuit alleges that the Hollis Independent School District in Holland, Oklahoma violated his son’s rights by not preventing sexual activity between him and his teacher, Jennifer Caswell. Some of you may have seen Caswell’s self-serving interview with Dr. Phil McGraw on May 19.
The Complaint contains a number of powerful allegations regarding the school district’s failure to investigate the initial sexual contact between the child and Caswell, and the district’s failure to notify anyone (including the boy’s father) about what had happened. Specifically, the father claims on behalf of his son that sexual contact first occurred in a high school classroom on April 4, 2014. Despite the fact that the sexual acts were reportedly observed by two witnesses, who reported the incident, the school district apparently did not make a report to either the Oklahoma Department of Education or the Department of Human Services. Instead, the district allowed Caswell to resign her position on April 7, 2014. By not reporting Caswell’s assault and allowing her to resign, the district permitted her to keep her teaching license.
Shortly afterwards, the father says, Caswell called him about mentoring his son. Over a period of months, she became a frequent visitor to the shared home of the boy and his father. During the course of those visits (many of which occurred while the father was away), the father alleges that multiple additional assaults occurred. While still allegedly unaware of the assaults, the boy’s father sent his son to Olive Branch, Mississippi to spend the summer with his biological mother. Caswell reportedly traveled to Mississipi to meet with the boy; after taking him to a local motel, Caswell was arrested by police.
She has since pleaded guilty to sexual assault charges on the 15-year-old student, and is awaiting sentencing.
The lawsuit alleges that the sexual assaults by Caswell had a profound impact on the student:
The result of the multiple acts of sexual abuse, sodomy and rape has left M.C. withdrawn and quiet where he was previously an outgoing teenager. M.C.’s grades have dropped significantly and his desire to participate in extracurricular activities has greatly reduced. Indepth psychological examinations will need to be done to assess long-term damage.
The seven-count Complaint seeks a variety of damages, including: “Compensatory damages including Plaintiff’s physical damages as well as psychological and emotional distress; Punitive damages (except as to Count II); All other damages or relief deemed appropriate by the Court or jury; Costs; and Reasonable attorney fees.”
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