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Leighton Law Wins $49.3 Million Verdict for Student Raped by Teacher Inside School


Miami, Florida – Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Miami-Dade County jury awarded a student $49.3 million against her former high school math teacher who sexually assaulted and raped her in his classroom.

C.R.R., now 20, was a 16-year-old sophomore at South Dade High School when teacher Bressniel Jansen committed horrible acts. He undertook a semester’s worth of abuse, which started with emails and texts, moved to texting photos of his genitals, then forcibly kissed her, and escalated to his forcing her to perform oral sex on him in the locked classroom. Finally, he took her virginity and raped her on his desk during school hours.

She sought help from John Leighton, who is the author of a textbook on bringing these types of cases. During the course of the lawsuit, Leighton Law, P.A. discovered that C.R.R. was not the only student Jansen acted inappropriately with. At least one other young student was approached and engaged in an inappropriate texting relationship with Jansen, who sought to escalate the relationship. The girl’s parents found out, terminated it, and alerted the school. Jansen was the subject of an investigation by Miami-Dade Public Schools, which found that he made inappropriate contact with the student. But he was not disciplined. He was not removed from the classroom. He was not provided any supervision. In fact, his room had lockable doors and blinds that prevented anyone from seeing inside.

A few years later Jansen committed the horrible acts on C.R.R.

When caught, he admitted to his crimes. He pleaded guilty to several criminal charges and was sentenced to 10 years of probation with conditions, as well as sexual offender status. He later violated his probation and was jailed.

Leighton Law attorneys John Leighton and Max Panoff represented C.R.R. in the two-day trial before Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Antonio Marin. The jury returned a verdict late Tuesday, November 14, 2017. The verdict totaled $49.3 million, which included $30 million for punitive damages.

Punitive damages, rarely awarded in Florida, are available to punish and deter future conduct when the acts are either intentional or grossly negligent and cause serious harm.

Especially in light of the national spotlight

“Especially in light of the national spotlight on this very subject, it is important for victims of sexual abuse to have their day in court,” said attorney John Leighton. “This verdict will send a message, especially where abusers and rapists take advantage of the criminal justice system. No longer will our client be the hunted victim.” Leighton hopes the verdict will also send a message to other students who have been victimized by teachers and others in authority to come forward and tell their story: “The only way we stop this is by telling these stories, uncovering the dark veil of secrecy that abusers require to continue to abuse.”

This case was the subject of intense media attention after it first occurred and Jansen was arrested.