ESD found negligent in teacher-student relationship case



Posted on September 21, 2011 at 4:38 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 21 at 5:55 PM

DALLAS - Following nine weeks of testimony, the Episcopal School of Dallas was found grossly negligent in how it handled a sexual relationship between a teacher and a 16-year-old student, and has been ordered to pay the girl's family at least $5 million.

The girl's parents claimed administrators failed to protect their daughter from the relationship, then forced her to withdraw from the school.

An all-female, six-person jury did not find the school liable for failing to prevent the relationship, but decided the school caused the family "loss of enjoyment of life" and mental anguish for forcing the girl to leave the school.

The school's board president called the verdict "wrong."

Attorneys representing the school issued a statement Wednesday afternoon that said the jury's verdict was "fraught with errors and will be appealed."

“[T]here are no winners in this case; it’s been extremely difficult for our community," said John Eagle, ESD Board Chairman in the statement. "I have already talked to our Executive Committee and the insurance company.  This will be appealed, and it will be resolved in the right way.  We have a strong and resilient school community, and it’s one that is very supportive of the school’s decision-making process in this matter."

Chrysta Castañeda, the lead ESD attorney, said they have reviewed the jury's verdict Wednesday morning and the school was ordered to pay $5 million, plus $700,000 in punitive damages.

Charla Aldous, the attorney for the girl's family, released a statement as well. However that statement said the school was to pay $8.6 million in compensatory damages and another $700,000 in punitive damages.

“ESD may be viewed by some as one of Dallas’ top college prep schools, but it failed this student at every turn," Aldous said in the statement. "The school failed to perform appropriate background checks on Nathan Campbell and failed to properly monitor the teacher’s use of school property including an ESD credit card and ESD-owned cell phone, either of which would have unquestionably raised red flags."

Nathan Campbell, the former ESD history teacher who had the alleged relationship with the girl, is awaiting trial on criminal charges of sexual assault of a child and improper relationship with a student.