Jennifer Caswell, a former Oklahoman teacher, who is serving a minimum of 8.5 years in prison for having sex with one of her students in 2015, will have to pay over one million dollars to her victim who sued her for inflicting intentional emotional distress.
Caswell had previously said she was initially “terrified” after her first encounter which took place within six weeks of having obtained her teaching certificate. She continued the sexual contact with the student for months and was eventually arrested at a motel where the student was with her. She was married at the time.
Caswell appeared on Dr. Phil in May of 2015 and admitted the sex with the student in her classroom, his house, her car and at her home. She told Dr. Phil that she was not a monster or a predator and that she “made a stupid decision.” She added that their actions were consensual.
In addition to her prison sentence, Ms. Caswell is required to register as a sex offender for life.
OUR FREE OPINION
The damage award is unlikely ever to be paid and appears to have symbolic value only. Ms. Caswell lost her teaching license and is unlikely to be making any decent money soon.
Requiring Ms. Caswell to register as a sex offender for life is an unnecessary “punishment” (and that is what it is) with unintended consequences.
Politicians have increasingly passed longer registration periods strictly for their political gain. Some states require registration for urinating in public and similar offenses. Judges are handcuffed because state laws make such registration mandatory. For the most part, research shows that registration of offenders does not aide law enforcement, and it is very costly. Judges should be permitted to use discretion in individual cases.