A Southern California school district — which has suffered financially from lawsuits filed by at least three former teachers accused of sexual abuse — will pay an additional $2.25 million to a second victim of Laura Whitehurst, a former English teacher who was made pregnant by another student.
The settlement brings the total price tag for the teacher’s rings to $8.25 million, paid to her victims by the Redlands Unified School District since Whitehurst’s arrest in 2013, the Southern California News Group reported Sunday.
Since 1999, according to CBS News, at least 50 students have accused more than 25 teachers of sexual conduct within the school district. In April, the California branch of the Justice Department opened an investigation into numerous sexual assaults reported at the school, according to another CBS report.
There had already been a $6 million settlement involving the teenager who fathered a child with Whitehurst, a payment that Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, the law firm representing two of Whitehurst’s victims, called “the largest single-victim settlement against a school district in a sexual abuse case in California history.
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Other staff members at Citrus Valley High School knew Whitehurst was abusing the student before post-birth photos of the student next to her in a hospital bed circulated, according to the San Bernadino Sun – but despite California’s mandatory reporting laws, County Atty. , Michael Ramos, has not accused any staff member of a crime.
“Prior to July 1, 2013, only unsubstantiated rumors and speculation existed,” Ramos wrote in a press release after Whitehurst’s arrest. “No factual information about a sexual relationship was reported to any teacher or school official.”
However, according to the local media outlet, Whitehurst and the boy were questioned about their relationship by administrators in May 2013.
It wasn’t until the boy’s mother called police, a month after Whitehurst gave birth to her son’s child, that Whitehurst was arrested.
After a police investigation, Whitehurst faced 41 criminal charges for sexually abusing three students, according to the Redlands-Loma Linda Patch, and 29 years in prison. But after reaching a plea deal, she was found guilty of six of those charges and faced a maximum of 365 days in county jail and five years of felony probation.
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She is no longer incarcerated, according to the California Department of Corrections, but she must register as a sex offender for the rest of her life.
This latest restitution of $2.25 million stems from another lawsuit, filed in 2021 by another boy who was allegedly molested by Whitehurst around the same time.
Morgan Stewart, the victim’s attorney, told Law & Crime that the teacher initiated the encounters in her classroom and home after luring the teen into conversations about sex. Whitehurst allegedly told police about the crimes at the time of his 2013 arrest, but that the school district spent years litigating rather than “easily resolving this case at the beginning,” he said.
“It would be far more noble to resolve these cases without further harm to the victims, but Redlands continued to play the game of dragging victims through hell to assert their rights against them,” Stewart told the outlet. “The current commissioner (Juan Cabral) has no respect for the voices of these victims.”
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Fox News Digital was unable to reach Stewart or the previous victim’s attorney, John Manly, for comment at the time of publication.
Stewart alleges that the school district shows a pattern of not reporting sex crimes against students.
Former Redlands math teacher Kevin Patrick Kirkland pleaded guilty to sexually abusing four female students between 2014 and 2016, including one with special needs, according to the San Bernadino Sun.
In an emailed statement to Fox News Digital, Christine Stephens, communications manager for the Redlands Unified School District, wrote that the district “is aware of the $2.25 million settlement in the latest lawsuit from Whitehurst and is unable to comment on specifics due to the confidentiality agreements that accompany this settlement.”
The school has “implemented several protocols” since the spate of sexual abuse incidents, she said.
In 2018, the school adopted the ACT (Actions Create Trust) Now initiative, according to Stephens’ email — the six-page policy calls for school resource officers at every district facility, mandatory reporter handbooks for all employees and to additional school counselors to correct the problem. “socio-emotional” health of students.
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According to the policy’s language, school district staff and volunteers are prohibited from “intruding within the physical and emotional boundaries of a student, unless such intrusion is necessary to serve a legitimate educational purpose.”
Although not criminally reportable, the policy prohibits teachers from addressing students with animal names, singling out specific students for personal attention or friendship, transport a student in a personal vehicle in a non-emergency situation and have personal contact with students by cell phone. .