Law Office of Lowell Steiger

High School Teacher Burns Cross on Student’s Arm

Author: Lowell Steiger

Published On: June 21, 2008

How outrageous is this? CNN reports that an Ohio high school teacher is being accused of burning a cross on a male teenage student’s arm. It is shocking to me that the Mount Vernon City School District school administrators are just now beginning the process of firing the teacher. Shouldn’t they have fired him immediately? The teacher, John Freshwater, has been teaching eighth-grade science for 21 years in Ohio. He has been reprimanded several times for refusing to remove his Bible from his classroom desk while simultaneously teaching creationism and evolution. By the way, he used an electrostatic device to mark the cross on the boy’s arm. Obviously, this had to be a painful experience. The mark, however, lasted only three weeks.

There is nothing in the article addressing whether or not this teacher has been criminally charged. The obvious charges would be for assault and battery. If I were to represent this boy civilly, my lawsuit would be against the teacher as well as the school district who, from what I read thus far, was on notice of this teacher’s propensity to proselytize (Bible on the desk; teaching creationism and evolution at the same time; teaching that homosexuality is a sin). The causes of action would be assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence as to the school district based upon their hiring, lack of supervision, lack of control and inadequate training of Freshwater. This boy’s future is, in my opinion, forever altered by the actions of this religious zealot who has ventured far beyond the scope of decency and and reasonableness. In fact, what he has done would rise to the level of actions warranting a legal prayer for punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish and deter.

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