Student who had child with female teacher awarded $6m abuse settlement
Lawyer says figure ‘represents the gravity of the damage done to this young victim’
Published 22/08/2016 | 14:21
A student who fathered his teacher’s baby has received the largest single-victim sex abuse settlement from a public agency in US history, receiving a $6 million (£4.5 million) pay-out.
In 2013, English teacher Laura Whitehurst, who was 28 at the time, pleaded guilty to four charges of unlawful sexual intercourse and two of oral copulation with a person under 18.
The lawsuit was filed against Whitehurst and her employers, the Redlands Unified School District and the Citrus Valley High School, in California – where Whitehurst was teaching at the time the incidents took place.
The prosecution alleged the defendants failed to inform the boy’s family or the police about the matter, despite knowing Whitehurst was abusing the victim and other students.
Vince W. Finaldo, who represented the victim, said: “The size of this settlement represents the gravity of the damage done to this young victim and his family, and it also highlights the extreme malfeasance and neglect by school officials who turned a blind eye to the criminal conduct of a teacher and failed to protect a student.”
Whitehurst, now 31, had started a sexual relationship with the student in the summer of 2012 when he was 16 years old. It lasted for a year, during which she became pregnant with his child.
According to the victim’s legal representatives, Whitehurst called the school principal to inform them of the boy’s absence while he attended doctors’ appointments with her.
Whitehurst was eventually arrested in 2013 following a complaint from the victim’s parents, who said she had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with their son, Redlands Daily Facts reports.
According to the website, two former Redlands High School students – where Whitehurst previously worked – came forward with their own allegations against the teacher. She was charged with a total of 41 counts of unlawful sex acts with minors, and pleaded guilty to six.
As part of her plea bargain Whitehurst was sentenced to one year in jail, of which she served six months due to good behaviour.
She received five years of probation, was ordered to relinquish her teaching credentials, was registered as a sex offender and ordered to wear a GPS tracking device. She was also forbidden from making contact with the victim, according to Redlands Daily Facts.
Manly, Stewart and Finaldi, the law firm which handled the case, have since filed another claim notice, representing the alleged victim of another Redland district teacher, Kevin Patrick Kirkland, 56, who teaches maths at Redlands High School. He has been arrested on suspicion of engaging in sexual acts with an underage girl from when she was 16 until the age of 18.
Independent News Service