Broward school board sued over 2009 sex abuse case
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- The mother of a former middle school student who allegedly had more than 100 sexual encounters with one of his teachers in 2009, filed a federal lawsuit against the Broward County School Board, claiming school officials acted negligently and violated the student's right to an education.
The student, now 17, was a 13-year-old eighth grader when he began engaging in sexual activities with former Lauderhill Middle School teacher Kristen Sullivan.
According to the complaint, the acts "included kissing, inappropriate touching, oral sex and sexual intercourse" on school grounds as well as in her apartment. "Sometimes she would call me out of class and invite me to her room, the back room, actually," the student said. "She made me feel like it was OK. She told me things, that she was here for me, that she was the only one that was there for me."
The complaint continued, "This was the first time John Doe had ever engaged in sexual intercourse with anyone." The student claims she also showered him with gifts and even supplied him with drugs. "Shoes, marijuana, clothes," he said. "[She] took me to places that I've never been before, made me feel like I was special."
Sullivan is currently serving three years in prison as part of a plea deal which entailed avoiding the title of sex offender.
The victim said the relationship has irrevocably affected his life. "My life was really ruined because now it's hard for me to trust people in a relationship with a female," he said. The student is currently undergoing therapy.
The student's mother said her broken trust involves the school district. "I feel betrayed," she said. "I trusted the school system, and the teachers. It's enough that teenagers have to deal with so many other issues, but I never thought it would be at school."
In the lawsuit he filed against the school district, family attorneys said school officials knew about the relationship but failed to take corrective action. "Teachers should not be having sex with their students," said Jeff Herman. "When a school knows or suspects that one of its teachers is having sex with a student, they've got to step in and protect the student, notify the families, remove the teachers. None of that happened here."
The student's mother said she feels Sullivan's sentence is not severe enough, and she wants retribution. "Thirteen is 13, no matter what you say, how you say it," she said. "Thirteen is 13 whether it's male or female."
Broward School Board representatives declined to comment.
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