Two Ohio school districts are being sued for their inaction in the case of a former teacher who carried out a years-long relationship with a student, grooming him for sex, adopting him and eventually having his baby.
According to Cleveland.com, the 20-year-old victim took legal action Monday against Akron and Tallmadge public schools, arguing the districts knew about the relationship between him and teacher Laura Lynn Cross. Cross, who’s currently serving a three-year jail sentence, is also named as a defendant in the suit.
The two met in 2009 when the student was just 12 years old, after which the grooming began and their relationship quickly progressed into a sexual one. Cross and the victim allegedly began having sex in September 2012 when the victim was student at Buchtel High School and Cross worked as a language arts teacher, according to the lawsuit.
At one point, the victim, who’s African-American, started living with Cross after the former teacher convinced the student’s mother to grant her “partial parental custody” so she could “mentor him” at her Tallmadge home. That’s when the student began attending Tallmadge High School, where Cross has also begun teaching.
By this time, the plaintiff’s father had alerted Buchtel and Tallmadge school officials about the inappropriate relationship, but they failed to take action.
“The effect of the defendants’ lack of action ‘condoned and facilitated’ an environment of sexual abuse Cross committed against the plaintiff,” the complaint argues according to Cleveland.com.
“These failures resulted in the repeated sexual abuse, assault, and rape of plaintiff over a period of seven years,” it the suit continues. “Plaintiff has suffered severe and permanent physical, psychological and emotional damage as a result of these failures.”
The victim’s mother eventually filed a police report alleging the two were in a relationship in June 2015, however, charges weren’t filed until authorities learned Cross, 37, had given birth to the teen’s baby in December 2015.
The former teacher was ultimately sentenced to three years in prison for sexual battery after admitting to her sexual relationship with the student.
The plaintiff is now seeking an unspecified amount in damages, citing civil rights violations and Title IX sexual harassment and abuse, according to the newspaper.
Akron Public Schools spokesman Mark Williamson declined to comment “so as not to influence the case.” Tallmadge schools haven’t commented on the lawsuit either.