Lawsuit alleges Westwood teacher sexually abused special needs student
WESTWOOD, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- A teacher at Westwood High School was named in a lawsuit filed Tuesday afternoon alleging that she sexually abused a special needs student.
The suit, which requests a trial by jury, alleges that Jaime Ashworth, a Spanish teacher at the high school, "groomed" the unnamed teen, who had a condition that required the use of a wheelchair and strong pain medication, as well as numerous other behavioral problems.
The teacher inflated the student's Spanish grade, gave him a copy of the Westwood schools directory with the personal phone numbers of all teachers, arranged to become his study advisor, and called and texted him constantly.
After providing him with pain medication like oxycodone and valium, the suit alleges that Ashworth asked that the student "repay" her by allowing her to perform oral sex on him. On one occasion, the suit alleges that Ashworth performed oral sex on the student without his consent while he was in his wheelchair in the Spanish teachers' conference room.
Numerous teachers noticed and commented on the student's close relationship with the teacher, and the student's parents asked the high school's then-principal, Emily Parks, to intervene. Parks has since been promoted to assistant superintendent. The current superintendent says that the claim was investigated, but nothing sexual was ever found.
"Five years ago, in 2009, we did investigate the teacher's excessive interaction with this student. That investigation turned up no evidence of a sexual relationship," Superintendent John J. Antonucci said.
The lawsuit alleges that neither the principal nor the school committee did anything to protect the student from Ashworth, and that they "actually knew about the specific misconduct and sexual harassment committed by Ashworth, and were deliberately indifferent to this conduct."
The teenager suffered a mental breakdown during his senior year and had to be hospitalized. Even though he was unable to finish his coursework, the suit claims, the school allowed him to graduate in 2009. That same year, Ashworth was asked to leave the high school for excessive communication with students, according to an attorney for the school. She was suspended and then eventually resigned.
According to the lawsuit, in 2011, after "refusing her sexual demands" when he was at her home, Ashworth called the police and had him arrested for domestic assault and battery, charges which were later dismissed.
The student's attorney says he has been hospitalized several times and he is now in rehab out of state. An attorney for Ashworth claims the teacher only had a personal relationship with the student after he turned 18 years old and when she was no longer a teacher at the school.