SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA.com) — Attorneys for a teenager who fathered a child with a former Redlands teacher announced Thursday a lawsuit against the woman and the school district.
The suit, which was filed against 29-year-old Laura Whitehurst, the Redlands Unified School District and Citrus Valley High School, alleges the defendants failed to inform the victim’s family and law enforcement after they had reason to believe Whitehurst was sexually abusing students.
“Children in California, children in Redlands should not be a sex toy for their teacher,” the teen’s attorney John Manly said.
The former AP English teacher, who had a baby girl in June 2013, originally faced 41 felony counts of having sex with a minor and oral copulation with a person under the age of 18. She took a plea bargain and pleaded guilty to six of the 41 counts in July.
Four of those counts involved the father of her child, who Whitehurst had a relationship with for more than a year, according to officials. The sexual contact began in the summer of 2012 when the boy was 16 years old.
Lawyers of the victim, who is now 18 years old and attending college, said he was stalked by Whitehurst. She told him she could not get pregnant.
The teen, who was present at the birth, has shared custody of the baby, but his lawyers want Whitehurst to under psychological evaluation to see if she’s fit to parent. The custody agreement involves a court-ordered representative that facilitates custody exchanges as there is a no-contact order between the child’s parents.
“If full custody is in the best interest of the child, because it’s not safe for the child to be with the mother, then yes, that’s what we would request,” the teen’s attorney Heather Cullen said.
Whitehurst was released from prison on Jan. 5 after serving only half of a year-long sentence that was handed down last August. She will remain on probation for five years and must undergo counseling.
The suit names another teacher at Citrus Valley High School. The teen’s attorneys claims soccer coach Sarah Seevers knew about the abuse and never reported it.
“If she had done her job this kid would never have been abused for the length of time that he was,” the teen’s attorney Vince Finaldi said.
District Superintendent Lori Rhodes responded to the lawsuit Thursday: “The allegations in the John BB Doe lawsuit as they relate to the Redlands Unified School District and its current employes are simply untrue. Furthermore, it is shocking that the plaintiff’s attorneys have gone beyond suing the district itself and included a teacher who had no role in the events whatsoever.”
The teen’s lawyers would no specify how much money is being requested, only saying that a jury would determine the amount.