AKRON, Ohio (CN) – A former student filed a civil rights lawsuit against two Ohio school districts and a former teacher who groomed him for a sexual relationship and then had his baby, claiming school administrators knew what was going on but turned a blind eye.
The 20-year-old former student of Akron and Tallmadge schools sued Laura Lynn Cross and the cities’ school districts on Monday in Akron federal court, alleging teacher-on-student sexual harassment, assault and battery, and negligent hiring.
“This case challenges the multiple supervisory and other failures on the part of Akron Public Schools, their agents and employees and Tallmadge City Schools, their agents and employees, to prevent adult Laura Lynn Cross, from sexually abusing, assaulting, and raping the plaintiff, a student and a minor,” the 21-page filing states.
Attorney Sara Gedeon of Chesterland, Ohio, filed the lawsuit which names multiple officials at the school districts and seeks damages for the plaintiff, a victim of sexual assault.
In June, Cross, 37, was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of sexual battery. She is incarcerated at Ohio State Reformatory for Women in Marysville.
Cross started grooming the student in 2009 when he was 12 years old and until he graduated from Tallmadge High School in 2016, according to his lawsuit. Cross was his music teacher and then later his 8th-grade language arts teacher. During that time she singled him out for attention and would take him swimming, bowling and to restaurants, and bought him Nike tennis shoes, he says.
He claims he began spending the night at her house and they would go to school together and then leave in the afternoon to go home.
According to the complaint, they began having sex in September 2012, while Cross was teaching at Buchtel Middle School and the then 15-year-old student was a high school freshman in the same building.
Cross later persuaded the boy’s mother to give her partial custody of the boy so he could move in with her and she could “mentor” him. After she quit teaching in December 2015, she gave birth to his baby. The infant was given up for adoption, according to reports.
The boy’s father contacted Tallmadge administrators when he found out the teacher and his son’s relationship was sexual, according to the lawsuit, but the school did nothing.
His mother later found what the lawsuit describes as “horrific” Twitter messages from Cross to her son and contacted the Akron police. Prosecutors charged her in 2017.
“These failures resulted in the repeated sexual abuse, assault, and rape of plaintiff over a period of seven years. Plaintiff has suffered severe and permanent physical, psychological and emotional damage as a result of these failures,” the complaint states.
Akron Public Schools spokesman Mark Williamson said that he was not commenting “so as not to influence the case.”
Tallmadge City Schools did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.