Ellen Goldberg, NBCDFW.com
A jury finds the Episcopal School of Dallas was grossly negligent in how it dealt with a sexual relationship between a student and a teacher.
A former student and her parents were awarded millions of dollars Wednesday in a civil case against the Episcopal School of Dallas.
The jury found the school liable in how it dealt with a sexual relationship between a 16-year-old female student and a 34-year-old male teacher.
When the relationship was discovered, the girl was asked to leave the school in a move the school said was in her best interest. The parents then filed a civil suit against the school, claiming it didn't do enough to protect their daughter from the relationship.
The jury found that the student was not liable for failing to prevent the relationship but was grossly negligent in how it handled the incident when the relationship was discovered.
"I think the jury heard the case," said Charla Aldous, the family's attorney. "I think they sent a message loud and clear that our community will not tolerate a school treating a sexual abuse victim like ESD treated Jane Doe."
On Wednesday, the three were awarded $8.5 million in compensatory damages and another $700,000 in punitive damages. The compensatory damages include $1 million to the daughter for loss of enjoyment of life in the future and $750,000 to the parents for past mental anguish with another $250,000 for future mental anguish.
Jurors ruled that the school is a charitable organization but was grossly negligent.
Lawyers for the school said they plan to file an appeal.
"The judge kept out material evidence that would have helped ESD's case," said Chrysta Castaneda, an attorney for the school. "We definitely want to bring that to the court of the appeals' attention."
"The verdict was wrong, and it’s unfortunate that ESD never got the opportunity to put on their case," said John Eagle, chairman of the school's board. "The rulings from the bench did not allow that."
The teacher, Nathan Campbell, is facing criminal charges of sexual assault of a child and improper relationship with a student.
NBC 5's Susy Solis contributed to this report.