A jury in San Diego awarded the victim of sexual abuse by a teacher $2.1 million in damages on Wednesday.
The victim, now 19, is a former student at Crawford High School. His former teacher, Toni Sutton, 40, was sentenced to two years in prison for the crime in July 2016, after pleading guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and one count of oral copulation with a minor in June 2016, according to the The San Diego Union-Tribune. Sutton was a spanish teacher and volleyball coach at the school.
The jury decided - in a two week trial - that the San Diego Unified School District was negligent in preventing the abuse from happening.
Sutton and the student, who was not identified, had sex a lot in Sutton's classroom with the door locked during first period while he was supposed to be in class. They did it so much that his attendance suffered, his attorneys argued. They also had sex at her house and in her car, according to KNSD in San Diego.
The abuse started when the boy was 15 and the teacher was 37, Sutton "groomed" the student for sex abuse, court documents said, bringing him food and taking him to school.
The victim's attorneys said the school ignored the red flags and didn't take action in a timely manner. Other teachers knew that the boy was spending so much time with Sutton but didn't do anything about it, his attorneys said. They would email Sutton about the boy missing class and she'd reply that he was with her. They also didn't do anything about his poor attendance.
Sutton was also previously warned not to share personal and explicit details about her life with her students, court documents said, and was told to not spend so much time with them. However, no one followed up with her, the victim's attorney said in court.
“Nobody ever follows up on anything here,” attorney Michael Kirby said during the trial. “There was no exercise of reasonable care in this case.”
The jury decided that the schools district was responsible for 40 percent of the harm to the student, and Sutton was responsible for 60 percent. She doesn't work for the district anymore and her California teaching license was taken away, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
School district spokesperson Maureen Magee said the district would be responsible for about $840,000. They have not yet decided if they will appeal.
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