Assault Victim Suing Redlands Schools, Employees
RIVERSIDE – A sexual assault victim has filed a civil lawsuit in county superior court against his former teacher. Laura Whitehurst, who was released from jail last month after serving six months of a one-year sentence, pleaded guilty last summer to six felony counts that were associated with three victims. The suit was filed last Tuesday, February 4.
Whitehurst, who taught English at Redlands Citrus Valley High School in San Bernardino County, gave birth to a baby girl in June 2013, fathered by the victim who is bringing suit. The suit claims that school officials did not take necessary steps to prevent what turned out to be a year-long sexual relationship.
The complaint also names Sarah Seevers, who is a history teacher and a soccer coach at Citrus Valley, along with other district officials, claiming they had knowledge of the relationship and failed to report the abuse to authorities. A separate investigation conducted by Redlands police last year did not result in any wrongdoing by the local school district.
Reportedly, the complainant may also be seeking custody of the baby. The complaint alleges that district and high school officials failed to inform the victim’s family and law enforcement of the abuse and that they ignored or concealed Whitehurst’s previous sexual encounters when she taught at another district high school. The complaining party was not named specifically in the lawsuit filings.
Redlands school officials, through the office of Superintendent Lori Rhodes, have specifically denied the allegations regarding its employees, including Seevers. Whitehurst, who was also a school club adviser, began a sexual relationship with the 16-year-old young man in the summer of 2012. In the complaint, it’s alleged that Whitehurst coerced him into attending doctor’s appointments with her, contacting the school principal to excuse his absences, plus other forms of manipulation.
Part of Whitehurst’s plea agreement was 365 days in jail, a five-year probation and registering as a sex offender. Whitehurst, who was arrested on July 1, 2013, resigned from her job one day later, pleaded guilty on July 31, was sentenced on Aug. 28 and released from jail on Jan. 5.
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