California School District Reaches $2.25M Settlement With Victim of Teacher Who Had Student’s Baby
By LawCommentary | Posted on September 14, 2023
Photo Source: Los Angeles Times via Kurt Miller / Associated Press
Southern California's Redlands Unified School District has agreed to pay the victim of a former teacher who had a history of sexually abusing her students. This will be the second settlement the school district agreed to involving a victim of the teacher.
Laura Whitehurst, a former AP English teacher and soccer coach at Citrus Valley High School, was arrested in 2013 after allegations that she had ongoing sexual relationships with at least three of her students. One of her victims, who was 16 at the time, would go on to father her child.
The school district has agreed to pay $2.25 million to settle the latest lawsuit brought forward by one of Whitehurst's victims. This newest lawsuit follows a 2016 settlement in which the school district agreed to pay $6 million to end a lawsuit brought by a different victim.
In the 2016 case, the victim accused school district officials of knowing about the relationship he had with Whitehurst, arguing school officials failed to warn his family or do more to intervene. The relationship between the two began when the boy was 16 and would go on for over a year, eventually ending in him fathering Whitehurst’s child.
In this latest lawsuit filed by a former Redlands High School student, Whitehurst is accused of preying upon and sexually abusing a different child starting when he was 14. The young man says that the abuse took place between 2007 and 2008. In 2013, Whitehurst admitted that she had intercourse with the child anywhere from 10 to 15 times in both her classroom and apartment.
Whitehurst originally faced 41 counts of sex with a minor and oral copulation with a person under the age of 18 when she was arrested. However, Whitehurst went on to accept a plea bargain, pleading guilty to six of the 41 counts.
In 2013, Whitehurst was sentenced to a year in jail and was required to register as a sex offender. She served six months behind bars before being released early. Upon release, she was required to remain on probation for five years and undergo counseling, among other conditions.
During sentencing, the then 17-year-old who fathered Whitehurst’s child protested against the plea agreement saying, "Whitehurst's criminal actions against me have scarred me emotionally and will affect every relationship I have for the rest of my life."
The then-teen father pleaded with the judge to reconsider the light sentence saying, “Physically, I feel sick to my stomach thinking about the manipulation I was subjected to. Physically sick that I was not the only victim. Physically sick that I am one of the very few here today putting a voice and face to the destruction Ms. Whitehurst has caused.”
This is not the first time similar allegations have come forward against the school district and its teachers. Kevin Kirkland, a Redlands High special education math teacher, was accused of molesting female students from 2003 to 2016.
Kirkland eventually pled guilty to sexually abusing four female students between June 2014 and May 2016. He would go on to serve two years in jail. As with Whitehurst’s victims, Kirkland’s victims accused school officials of not doing more to prevent the abuse.
This latest settlement agreement brings the total settlement amounts paid by the school district to victims of Whitehurst to $8.25 million.