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Former Billings teacher settles wrongful death suit

A wrongful death lawsuit pending against a former Billings teacher has been settled this month. The former teacher, a 48-year-old man, had allegedly established a sexual relationship with a student. After he allegedly raped the girl, she committed suicide, and her mother filed suit against both the former teacher and the school district.

The terms of the settlement agreement remain confidential, according to district court documents. That suit had been filed in February 2011. The girl's family has also filed a $750,000 claim against School District 2, which has not yet been decided. The district has agreed to pay $15,000 to cover its deductible for insurance associated with the claim, but a settlement agreement has not been reached with the family. That claim was filed in August 2010.

The lawsuit alleged that the former teacher sexually assaulted the 14-year-old girl in 2007. The man resigned from his position at the school in 2008. He was charged later that year with multiple counts of sexual intercourse without consent. The victim in the case took her life during the criminal proceedings of the case, according to court documents, which show that she committed suicide on Feb. 6, 2010. The girl was just a few days shy of her 17th birthday.

Attorneys say the criminal case was deferred, pending the man's completion of sex offender classes and other court-mandated requirements. The charges will be dismissed in three years if the man satisfactorily completes the requirements, according to court documents.

In this case, even though the man was not directly involved with the girl's death, he was still a major participant in the events that led to her demise. It is helpful to know that even if someone is not present when the other party dies or is injured, he or she could still be culpable for the tragic outcome. The girl's mother ostensibly received punitive damages for pain and suffering, along with possible medical costs and other expenses.

Source: Billings Gazette, "Settlement ends wrongful-death case against former Billings teacher," Greg Tuttle, July 13, 2012

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