A Dallas County Court-at-Law No. 1 jury announced a $9.3 million verdict against Episcopal School of Dallas on September 21, 2011. According to press releases distributed by PR Newswire, the trial lasted a grueling nine weeks and focused on evidence that officials from the private school improperly expelled a female minor student after learning that a teacher had been involved in a sexual relationship with the student. The allegations were essentially that the school discovered that one of its teachers was having a sexual relationship with the minor and the school took steps to expel the student.
An all-female, six-person jury delivered the verdict, which included $8.6 million in compensatory damages and $700,000 in punitive damages for the gross negligence of the school in the way it addressed the situation. According to the press releases, history teacher, Nathan Campbell (34 years old) first started the sexual relationship with the student when she was only sixteen years old. This is illegal in Texas and a crime punishable with imprisonment. The relationship was uncovered when a patrolman found the teacher and his student alone in parked car. Campbell, who is awaiting trial on criminal charges of sexual assault of a child, was allowed by Episcopal School of Dallas to resign a few days after the exposure of the relationship.
The young girl, referenced as “Jane Doe II” during the trial, was originally told by the school that her privacy would be protected and that she would not face repercussions. However, a few weeks later, school officials met with the young girl’s father and told the father to either voluntarily withdraw his daughter from the school or she would be expelled. The allegations at trial were that Episcopal School of Dallas failed to properly perform background checks on Nathan Campbell, that the school should have known of the relationship due to the use of company provided cell phones and credit cards to Campbell, and that the school cast the victim out after learning of the relationship. The jury sent a strong message to educators and private schools in Texas with this verdict. The young girl was betrayed by her teacher and her school, but not by this jury.