Cross-Branding Science Teacher Finally Settles Case

A couple months ago, I wrote this:

It’s been a while since I’ve written about John Freshwater, the middle school science teacher who was accused of burning crosses into his students’ arms and teaching Creationism.

Since his firing in 2008, he’s been on “unpaid administrative leave pending an appeal.”

At the time, Freshwater dropped the lawsuit without a settlement.

It looks like there’s finally resolution to the case.

Freshwater is the clear loser, just as he always should have been.

The Nov. 23 ruling by Judge Robert H. Hoover of Licking County Probate Court approves the $450,000 settlement reached in August to compensate Stephen and Jenifer Dennis for mental pain and suffering, and their son, Zachary, for physical pain and sickness caused by John Freshwater, Zachary’s ninth-grade science teacher.

Included in the $450,000 settlement is an annuity of $150,000 to be paid over 13 years to Zachary, who now is enrolled in another school district. Jones Day, the law firm that represented the family, will get $25,000, which is apart from the $450,000 settlement. The money will be paid by Ohio Casualty, the district’s insurer.

No word yet on whether he still keeps his job.

At least justice was finally served. The proselytizing teacher was punished for what he did. Let’s move on.

(Thanks to Ashley for the link)

  • Toxteth

    Freshwater isn’t paying the judgment and might keep his job? Sounds like the school district is the big loser.

  • Heidi

    I hope he’s fired. Someone who assaults children shouldn’t be anywhere near a classroom.

  • Tam Hunter

    WTF should he keep his job

  • Danielle

    Yea, he should definitely be fired for that. How sick of that guy.

  • http://theobligatescientist.blogspot.com/ ObSciGuy (Paul)

    I’m missing why exactly it is that Freshwater is losing out here?

    Is the only impact on Freshwater REALLY just that he may or may not lose his job??

  • http://twoangryvoices.blogspot.com Aegis

    Man, that fucker doesn’t need a classroom, he needs a rubber room. Burning marks into skin is real old-school flagellant shit – they stopped doing that a thousand years ago, for truth’s sake.

  • Mike in FL

    This becomes a HUGE black mark on his career if he’s terminated by the school board. No school system worth it’s salt will go anywhere near him. I’ll lay odds that he’s gone by the end of the school year or the district may find more parents pulling their kids out to avoid him.

  • http://www.phoenixgarage.org/ cr0sh

    Termination? So apparently, in that district, one can be a teacher while mentally and physically abusing your students? Why isn’t this SOB in prison?

  • JD

    I don’t really understand why the matter should be considered completely finished.

    Where’s the assault charge? I’d think these days, branding someone’s flesh, particularly a minor’s, would be called assault in civilized countries, so I guess that tells us where we are as a society. So no, I don’t think a couple years of unpaid leave is enough punishment. This person acted well outside the allowable bounds treatment on the part of someone that deals with minors, and somehow, the school district was stuck with defending themselves because of it.

    @cr0sh; in some ways, it’s worse than that, nationwide. A teacher with tenure can commit a sex crime with a minor and there’s still a lengthy process to terminate them. One local school district paid such a teacher $76,000 to convince him to move on.

  • connor

    what the hell?

  • http://societyofreason.com Blaise

    I have two questions. First, why is a child-abuser not in jail, and second, why are the taxpayers being punished, rather than the offender?

  • Peter Mahoney

    Yes, why not a criminal charge of assault?

    Is there any parent here who would NOT ask police to ARREST a guy who had intentionally burned markings into the skin of your child?

    Especially when it is a teacher, who should be in a role to protect your child’s well-being while the kid is there during the school day?

  • Claudia

    What the hell is it about a school that makes behavior that is totally unacceptable anywhere else suddenly ok.

    - Your boss cannot demand to go through your bag, and through your pockets (while you are still wearing your clothes) on a whim to see if you have any drugs on you. Yet kids have been aggressively searched and then suspended for having painkillers without this apparently being a problem.

    - If a random adult were to burn a cross into your child they would be inmediately arrested and tried for assault on a minor. Yet if a teacher does it they get unpaid leave.

    - If a group of teenagers got together on the street and beat the hell out of another teenager for being gay/nerdy/fat/etc., they would be arrested and tried for assault. In some states, they could be tried as adults. Yet if this same scenario happens in a schoolyard it’s “bullying” and the criminals get a suspension and have to write a letter of apology.

    What. The. Fuck?

  • Nexus

    You guys want to see more “what the fuck” material? Take a look at the comments on the article. Ugh.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Am I right in thinking that the school district or their insurers can now sue Freshwater (or his insurers) for the sum awarded and his victims can also sue for compensation? As I understand it the school has the duty of care and so the school gets sued by parents when this duty of care is broken. However the school has a contract with the teacher and if they have suffered a financial loss as a direct result of a teacher’s actions then shouldn’t they be permitted to sue?

    I don’t know.

  • Tom Horwitz

    I’m also confused as to why there was no criminal prosecution. If you would like answers you can try calling the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office 740-670-5255. Licking County, Ohio is just north of Columbus. It’s a combination of ritzy suburbs and rural areas.

  • Carlie

    This becomes a HUGE black mark on his career if he’s terminated by the school board.

    Oh, I think this is a long way past the stage of becoming a black mark on his career. At least, if any hiring team did a 10-second Google search on him first.

  • Demonhype

    @Claudia:

    Your boss can, however, search you internally to make sure you aren’t associated with drugs in any way, whenever he wants and for whatever reason–or no reason at all. And no one has a problem with that. Never been sure how that shit is supposed to work–that he can’t search my clothes or home or private effects, but he can search me internally? What a load.

    Then there’s that fucking bunk in the airports–and you know where this shit is going to end. And you know there are plenty of people who will smile and bend over, knowing that the warm finger of “justice” in their anus is there for “their own good”.

    But you can see why some people might have no problem with external search and seizure on kids and see it as perfectly okay and totally not a violation, when so many docilely allow themselves to be searched in an arguably even more intimate way on a regular basis. And there seems to be absolutely no end to what people will submit to if they can be convinced it’s keeping the boogey-man at bay.

    After all, it’s all to keep us “safe”. And even if it does nothing to keep us actually safe, at least we “feel” safe, and in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about? The warm and cuddly illusion of protection provided by out-of-control security theater? We all know from our theist acquaintances that reality doesn’t matter–what you “feel” is every bit as valid and true as what is demonstrably true. And if we’re not willing to sacrifice our pathetic liberty for the all-important gain of security (however illusory), then we must all hate America and love the terrorists/drug dealers/insert bad guy here!

    And every idiot is convinced that it’s not “you” they want to search, it’s that they need to so they can keep “you” safe from your neighbor. And that neighbor has been told the same shit about “you”. Divide and conquer–just convince each person that they need to fear every other person, convince them that your gross violations are to catch someone else and by submitting they are being community heroes, and there seems to be no end to what you can get away with. Tribal mentality is a fucking disease.

    PUKE

  • Jeff

    So apparently, in that district, one can be a teacher while mentally and physically abusing your students? Why isn’t this SOB in prison?

    Tenure. And the teacher’s union. At least, those were the obstacles when I was a kid. It was virtually impossible to get rid of them. My sister had a teacher who terrorized her and the other students, who was literally living in the psych ward of our local community hospital. They couldn’t do a thing about it, or chose not to, out of fear of a lawsuit.

  • Gabriel

    Don’t blame the union. That is a straw man. Here in Texas teacher’s unions are illegal as a matter of state law and we are constantly the 48th to 50th worst state in the country for quality of education. Teachers regularly molest children in this state and aren’t always prosecuted. A lot of it is how hard the parents want to push the issue. Do the parents want to have their kid go through cross examination on the stand? Do the parents want to go through a trial? These are not small questions and aren’t easily answered. Personally I think I would have beaten this jackass but that is just me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 Donna Hamel (muggle)

    Great comment, demonhype!!!! That’s the unvarnished truth right there. People should not be standing for urine tests and the molestation in the airports! Whether they do drugs or not.

    The proselytizing teacher was punished for what he did.

    Really? Where? Because I see utterly no evidence of it. Show me some proof he’s actually being punished instead of hailed as a Christian hero.

    He should be where any parent caught purposely burning a child would and deserves to be — jail. And tenure in the public schools does not prevent one from being arrested for a crime. I think years in jail would give the school district the necessary fodder to terminate him before the asshole gets out on parole.

    But, because he did this in the name of Jesus, none of this is happening.

    Yeah, like a Muslim teacher abusing a student in the name of Allah would get off the hook. You know point blank they wouldn’t, no matter how tenured or unionized they are. They shouldn’t, of course, but neither should Freshwater. He should be behind bars.

  • http://pandasthumb.org RBH

    hoverfrog wrote

    Am I right in thinking that the school district or their insurers can now sue Freshwater (or his insurers) for the sum awarded and his victims can also sue for compensation?

    The settlement was negotiated by the District’s insurance company lawyers since Freshwater was sued in his capacity as an employee of the District, and that insurance company (Ohio Casualty) will pay the awards to the family and its lawyers.

    Tom Horwitz wrote

    I’m also confused as to why there was no criminal prosecution. If you would like answers you can try calling the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office 740-670-5255. Licking County, Ohio is just north of Columbus. It’s a combination of ritzy suburbs and rural areas.

    It’s also irrelevant and a bad recommendation. The ruling Hemant noted was by Juvenile Court Judge Hoover in Licking County approving the terms of the settlement as they relate directly to the boy who was burned since he now lives in Licking County. However, the incident did not occur in Licking County so calling that prosecutor is a waste of your call and his time.

    The total settlement was subsequently approved by Judge Gregory Frost of the Federal District Court in Columbus, where the case was originally filed.

    All that now remains is the recommendation of the referee of the administrative hearing on Freshwater’s termination and Board of Education action on that recommendation. That’s likely at least a month away. And incidentally, Freshwater was not a member of the teacher’s union, and it did not support him. The administrative hearing is required by state law.

    There’s a lot of shooting off of mouths in ignorance here, folks. If you want to know what went on, read the 175,000+ words I’ve written about it on Panda’s Thumb over the last two years.

  • Demonhype

    @Donna Hamel (muggle)

    Thank you! You have no idea how much I need to hear that right now. I’m struggling to find work that doesn’t require that I sign away my civil rights, and it’s tough and I’m getting desperate. Never desperate enough to submit though. I could never live with myself if I did that, no matter how big the salary. And I’m taking all manner of abuse even from people who agree with me, telling me I’m insane and I’m selling out my future, and I should just do what I’m told and stop trying to do what’s right because one person can’t ever make a difference. In fact, I was a little afraid to come back and see if anyone commented, because too often people like me are screamed down with some of the most ignorant hatred you can imagine. Kind of like the hatred levied against that guy who defied the TSA recently–”How dare you, you’re compromising the security of this country, you traitor!” Same kind of abuse, intended to stifle debate and silence any further opposition of their cuddly security blanket. Nothing like having abuse screamed at you from frothing incoherent mouths for taking an ethical stand.

    I would love to see more people taking a stand! I have been finding out that more people feel the way I do than I thought, but are afraid to open their mouths and say anything–more evidence of the witch-hunt mentality, that people have to be afraid to take a stand or even ask a question lest they be branded a “user”, and that public debate has been effectively stifled–just like anyone who asks a question about the TSA’s security procedures will guarantee “special treatment”. I would love to start some kind of thing myself, but I’m not sure how. I have considered sending letters to companies that drug test, complete with all the ethical and technical information about why it is wrong, and sending letters of congratulations to companies that don’t test or only test with-cause to encourage them to stand firm and not give in. And recently I began limiting my shopping only to stores that limit testing to with-cause–which has erupted a whole new tirade of “you stupid bitch” from my acquaintances. But I don’t see why I should give my patronage to a company that would withhold subsistence from me on the condition that I sign away my rights.

    Unfortunately, I fear that Dubya’s vile misdeeds and his teabagger cheerleaders may have obscured any possible interest in this subject. You want to take people’s minds off a violation of their intimate privacy? Just pile on even greater violations for them to worry about!

    *sigh*

  • paulalovescats

    If you give me $450,000, I’ll let you burn a cross into my arm. And anyone can test my urine any time. I don’t want to work next to someone on pot who might drop something on my toe. Or screw up a file and let me get blamed. No thanks.


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