MIAMI (WSVN) - A jury sided with a South Florida student who said she was raped by her high school math teacher, and she believes this sends a message to abusers.
The victim, who did not want to be identified, was a 16-year-old South Dade High School sophomore at the time of the incident.
The jury awarded her $49.3 million, but the now 20-year-old said it’s not enough for stealing her innocence. Four years later, she’s speaking out.
“I feel like I am making a difference. No amount of money would ever change that,” she said. “Being young and being put in that position, I felt like I was against a 32-year-old that obviously had more power, and people would believe him over me, and I didn’t stand a chance.”
However, her voice has been heard.
“The message this sends is, it’s not just in Washington, and it’s not just in Hollywood, and it’s not just in the corridors of big corporations,” said defense attorney John Leighten. “Abuse of power, especially sexual abuse of power, occurs everywhere.”
In 2014, 32-year-old Bresnniel Jansen was arrested and booked on charges of having committed a sexual act with a child and electronic transmission harmful to a minor.
The math teacher pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 10 years probation and is requited to register as a sex offender for life.
Jansen was later placed in jail after violating that probation.
“This could have been prevented in many ways,” the victim said.
Years before, the victim’s lawyer said Jansen sent sexual text messages to another student. The parents found out and alerted the school district.
“The hope is that maybe the people in the school system have learned some lessons from this,” Leighten said.
The jury’s multimillion-dollar verdict sends the message that abusive power won’t be tolerated. “To get a $30 million punitive damage award means that a jury decided that this was a really horrible thing that happened,” Leighten said. “It was done intentionally, and it really caused harm.”
When asked if justice was served, the victim said that the pain is still raw. “I do and I don’t,” she said tearing up. “I feel like he should have been punished more. Ten years can pass by and he can do whatever he wants to do.”
The victim said she now lives in fear because Jansen is no longer in jail.
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