Last Update: 09/24/2020
According to MeadvilleTribune, former Titusville Middle School gym teacher, 33-years-old Rochelle Cressman, faces 66 counts of repeatedly sexually assaulting a teen. Police arrested her in May 2019 in connection to a sexual affair with a student, which she supposedly initiated. The Meadville Tribune labeled the interaction between the 14-year-old boy and the teacher an affair and stated it occurred from September 2018 to April 2019. The encounters were either at Cressman’s residences in Oil Creek Township or North Martin Street in Titusville.
Cressman worked for the Titusville Area School District from August 2009 to April 2019 as a health and physical education teacher. She resigned on May 20, 2019.
The following are the counts she is facing:
Cressman has been offered a plea offer, whether she will take this deal is unknown. Due to COVID-19, no trial date has been set for her case.
Attorney contributor, Briant Kent an experienced sexual abuse lawyer licensed in Pennsylvania, represents sexual abuse victims in civil lawsuits. In an interview, Kent shared his thoughts regarding the legal rights of victims sexually abused by teachers to help victims determine if they have a case.
What legal obligation do schools and administrators have to their students?
Kent replied: “Schools and administrators have a legal obligation to protect their students and provide a safe environment. Unfortunately, sometimes sexual predators are found working in schools with children as teachers, coaches, and other staff. Often these predators use their positions of power to exploit children. However, schools, administrations, and employees must protect their students from these predators.”
Can a school be sued by a victim that faced sexual abuse by a teacher?
“When answering this question, the victim and their families must first ask if the school did everything possible to prevent the abuse in question. Some sexual abuse cases only occur as a result of negligence on behalf of the school. A school could be considered negligent if they ignore previous sexual misconduct complaints about a teacher and allow them to continue working. If a victim’s lawyer can prove their sexual abuse is a result of school negligence, the victim and their family may have grounds for a lawsuit.”