Laura Whitehurst: ex teen student wins $6m payout for fathering teacher baby
02:57, Aug 23, 2016
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Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst, who was 28-years-old at the time of the case, was charged with 41 counts of sex and oral copulation with a minor.
In addition to engaging in a year-long sexual relationship with a child that resuLTEd in her pregnancy, defendant Whitehurst actually called the principal to excuse the victim's absences while he was attending OBGYN appointments with her.
The student who won the $6 million settlement said his sexual relationship with Whitehurst started in 2012, when he was 16, and continued for about a year.
His lawyer Vince Finaldi, who led the case against Redlands Unified School District, said the settlement was the biggest against any public entity in the country involving child sex abuse.
In the meantime, the victim pursued legal action against the school district, saying that a Redlands Unified teacher and soccer coach, along with other unidentified district officials, failed to report the abuse to authorities, as they are required by state law.
The seven-figure payout was in part determined by the school district's failure to act on reports suggesting Whitehurst was engaged in relationships with her students.
Whitehurst was given a plea bargain in which she was sentenced to jail for 1 year, followed by probation and registration as a sex offender.
"Physically, I feel sick to my stomach thinking about the manipulation I was subjected to", the teen told a court when urging prosecutors to reject Whitehurst's plea bargain.
Despite the huge payment, district officials said they were admitting no wrongdoing by settling the lawsuit, blaming Whitehurst alone. Initially, she would drive him back and forth to school and spend "long hours" with him.
"It also highlights the extreme malfeasance and neglect by school officials who turned a blind eye to the criminal conduct of a teacher". No one in the district was charged with any offense.
He cited the explosion of media attention, noting "there was a picture of her in the birthing suite circulated to people at the school with the boy".
District spokesman Tom DeLapp said the district is "not pleased with this outcome" but settled "this tragic case once and for all so we can move forward". The former student told of Whitehurst also giving him a bible on his 17th birthday along with frequently taking him to church.