An Oklahoma City federal judge has awarded $1 million in damages to a teenage boy who was raped by his middle school teacher, according to The Oklahoman newspaper.
Jennifer Caswell, 31, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, five of which were suspended, after pleading guilty to six counts of second-degree rape, child enticement and forcible sodomy in June 2015.
In his judgment, U.S. District Judge Robin J. Cauthron wrote that following the incident, which garnered national headlines after Caswell appeared on the "Dr. Phil" show, the victim experienced “depression, isolation, and self-blame for the events that transpired.”
The boy and his father sued Caswell and the Hollis Oklahoma school district in 2015 due to the boy’s emotional duress and in order to bring attention to the plight of sexual abuse by teachers, according to their attorney Bob Wyatt.
Following the judgment, Wyatt said, “"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.” Hollis Public Schools agreed to pay the boy $125,000 earlier this year.
Caswell and the boy began a sexual relationship six weeks after she received her teaching certificate and became a teacher at Hollis Middle School, according to the Daily Mail. The boy was 15 at the time. Caswell was his eighth grade English teacher.
After they were observed having sex in a classroom, Caswell was asked to resign. She continued having sex with the boy, eventually stalking him to Mississippi, where he was staying with his mother, after which he began cooperating with authorities.
Due to the scandal, the boy now goes to school in a different town. In her ruling, Judge Cauthron wrote, "He experienced humiliation when members of his community publicly chastised him and when strangers recognized him and questioned him about the scandal." She went on to say Caswell, “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.”
Jennifer Caswell is currently serving her sentence at Oklahoma’s Mabel Basset Correctional Center. She will be eligible for parole in six and a half years and will be required to register as a sex offender following her release. She did not offer any defense in the lawsuit, nor is she expected to appeal the ruling.
In 2015, she appeared on the "Dr. Phil" show, claiming she was not a rapist. She said, “I didn't force anything. I didn't manipulate. I didn't take advantage.”
[Photo: Olive Branch Police Department]
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