United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
L. ROBART United States District Judge
matter comes before the court on Defendants Everett School
District and Carol Whitehead's (collectively, "the
District") first and second motions for summary judgment
(1st MSJ (Dkt. # 57); 2d MSJ (Dkt. # 59)), and Defendant
Craig Verver's motion for summary judgment (Verver MSJ
(Dkt. #61)). A.T. opposes the motions (see 1st Resp.
(Dkt. # 63); 2d Resp. (Dkt. # 69); Verver Resp. (Dkt. # 68)),
and all Defendants have filed replies (see 1st Reply
(Dkt. # 66); 2d Reply (Dkt. # 74); Verver Reply
(Dkt. #77)). Having considered these submissions, the
relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law, the
court, considering itself fully advised, GRANTS the
District's first motion for summary judgment (1st MS J)
and GRANTS Mr. Verver's motion for summary judgment
(Verver MS J). The court also DENIES the District's
second motion for summary judgment (2d MS J) as moot.
Accordingly, the court dismisses this case with prejudice.
A.T. attended Cascade High School
in the Everett School District from 1999 to 2003. (1st Resp.
at 6.) Mr. Verver was one of A.T.'s teachers during the
2001-2002 and 2002-2003 school years. (Id. at 6;
see also SAC (Dkt. # 28) ¶ 7.) A.T. was also a
cabinet member of the National Honor Society, for which Mr.
Verver served as a faculty adviser. (1st Resp. at 6.) During
the 2001-2002 school year, Mr. Verver singled out A.T. in
class, teased her,  and gave her special attention.
(Id.; see also Cochran Decl. (Dkt. # 65)
¶ 15, Ex. N ("A.T. Interrogatories") at 202.)
Mr. Verver told A.T. that she would need to take
"calculated risks" to be exceptional enough to
stand out for college admissions. (SAC ¶ 9.) At the end
of the school year, Mr. Verver encouraged A.T. to run for
Honor Society president, a position that required working
closely with him in his capacity as faculty adviser.
(Id. ¶ 10.) A.T. was elected Honor Society
president for the following year, and Mr. Verver gave A.T.
his personal contact information so that they could be in
touch over the summer. (Id.; 1st Resp. at 6.)
October 2002, while A.T. was 17-years-old, A.T. attended a
school dance. (A.T. Interrogatories at 198.) After the dance,
A.T. stayed to help cleanup. (Id.) While there, Mr.
Verver kept A.T. for hours and engaged her in conversation
about their "unique relationship." (Id.)
Mr. Verver also told A.T. that "he worried about his
role in her life and was envious of her parents because A.T.
might leave him after graduation while she would always be
her parents' child." (SAC ¶ 11.) Mr. Verver
expressed to A.T. that he was concerned about her future and
protective of who she may choose to date or marry.
(Id.) Mr. Verver also shared with A.T. that he was
having marital problems. (A.T. Interrogatories at 198.) At
the end of their conversation, Mr. Verver gave A.T. "a
very long and close hug." (Id.) After this
date, Mr. Verver frequently hugged A.T. closely when she left
his classroom if she had been there on the weekends or after
school. (Id. at 200.)
two weeks after the school dance, Mr. Verver confided in A.T.
that his wife was pregnant and that he was "crushed
about the news." (Id. at 198-99.) A.T. also
began confiding in Mr. Verver about her relationships with
boys. (Id. at 199.) During one conversation, A.T.
told Mr. Verver that she was uncomfortable being physical
with her boyfriends. (Id.) In response, Mr. Verver
sat next to A.T. on the couch in his classroom and asked,
"[D]o you feel uncomfortable about me sitting
here?" (Id.) He then put his hand on A.T.'s
thigh and asked A.T. whether she would be able to say
"no" if a date put his hand on her thigh.
turned 18 on January 5, 2003. (SAC ¶ 14.) Later that
month, she visited Mr. Verver's classroom. (Id.)
Mr. Verver greeted A.T. with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
(Id.; see also A.T. Interrogatories at 203.) The
next time A.T. saw Mr. Verver, he asked her how she felt
about the kiss. (A.T. Interrogatories at 203.) A.T. told Mr.
Verver that it made her nervous. (Id.) Mr. Verver
kissed her again on the cheek. (Id.)
end of January 2003, A.T. was in Mr. Verver's classroom
on a weekend. (Id. at 204.) Mr. Verver told A.T.
that he was going to "steal a kiss" and kissed A.T.
on the mouth. (Id.) A.T. became "physically
upset" and "started trembling and twitching
uncontrollably." (Id.) Mr. Verver told A.T.
that he was going to "steal another kiss" and
kissed her again. (Id.) Mr. Verver suggested that
they move to the couch, and Mr. Verver kissed A.T. and tried
to put his hands up her shirt, though A.T. resisted.
(Id.) A.T. felt "humiliated" and
"scared" about making Mr. Verver angry "if she
said that wasn't what she wanted" and "blamed
herself for making him have that misunderstanding."
(Id. at 204-05.) When A.T. returned home that day,
she "hid in her closet" and cried uncontrollably.
(Id. at 205.) The next school day, Mr. Verver pulled
A.T. aside before school started to discuss what had happened
between them. (Id.) Mr. Verver told A.T. it could
never happen again, but then pulled her in and kissed her,
saying, "[W]ell, we both knew we couldn't help
sexual relationship between A.T. and Mr. Verver continued to
escalate. (Id. at 205-06.) After school, on the
weekends, and even sometimes during school hours, Mr. Verver
would invite A.T. into his classroom, lock the door, and
engage in intimate contact with A.T. (Id.) The
sexual contact occurred two to three times a week for the
rest of A.T.'s senior year, ranging from kissing to
sexual intercourse. (Id. at 205-11.) The first time
A.T. and Mr. Verver had sexual intercourse was on April 26,
2003. (Id. at 208.) A.T. went to Mr. Verver's
classroom to gather supplies for a car wash. (Id.)
Mr. Verver produced a condom and asked A.T. to put one on
him. (Id.) A.T. hesitated, and Mr. Verver told her,
"If you want me to wear this then you have to put it on
me." (Id.) A.T. acquiesced, and the two had
sexual intercourse. (Id.) After this encounter, Mr.
Verver and A.T. had sex on multiple occasions in his
classroom and in other locations at the school. (Id.
the 2002-2003 school year, teachers who frequently stopped by
Mr. Verver's classroom after school and on the weekends
would find A.T in his classroom. (SAC ¶ 19.) On some
occasions, Mr. Verver's door was locked. (Id.)
Upon Mr. Verver opening the door, teachers would find A.T. on
his couch. (Id.) In addition, teachers also saw Mr.
Verver give A.T. rides home from school. (Id.)
graduated from high school in summer 2003, and began
attending the University of Washington that fall. (1st Resp.
at 8-9; A.T. Interrogatories at 213-14.) A.T. eventually
graduated from the University of Washington in 2008, with
bachelor's degrees in English and French. (Id.)
While A.T. studied at the University of Washington, she and
Mr. Verver continued their sexual relationship. (1st Resp. at
9.) On January 8, 2006, A.T. journaled about discussing the
relationship with Mr. Verver: "[A]nd then we moved onto
the topic of possible damage done and why we yet don't
stop." (Leitch Deck ¶ 4, Ex. B at 2.)
2008, AT. began graduate school at UCLA to pursue a PhD in
French Studies. (1st Resp. at 9.) Near the end of 2009, A.T.
was teaching an undergraduate French class when she had a
"significant reaction" to being the teacher in a
classroom of students. (Id.) A.T. subsequently
fainted on campus, and her PhD supervisor advised her to see
a therapist. (Id.) A.T. took her supervisor's
advice and sought counseling at UCLA. (Id.)
beginning of her therapy sessions, A.T. told the therapist
that she had an "on and off relationship with an older
married man. (Id. at 9-10.) On April 18, 2010, A.T.
told the therapist that she felt guilty and frustrated with
aspects of her relationship with Mr. Verver. (Id. at
10.) A.T. received her first psychological diagnosis at this
session: Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed
September 2011, A.T. moved abroad to Cambridge to continue
her studies. (Id.) In June 2012, A.T. returned to
UCLA to defend her dissertation prospectus. (Id.) On
this trip, she traveled to Seattle to confront Mr. Verver and
tell him that she no longer wanted a sexual relationship with
him. (Id. at 10-11.) Mr. Verver agreed to stop the
sexual relationship, but on the way home from dinner, Mr.
Verver pulled over in an abandoned parking lot, undid his
pants, and demanded oral sex. (A.T. Interrogatories at 219.)
A.T. "numbly complied." (Id.) After Mr.
Verver ejaculated, he "laughed, let out a satisfied
sigh, and said ... 'now I guess it's okay if
you go."' (Id.)
A.T. returned to Cambridge, she journaled extensively about
the relationship. In a January 29, 2012, entry-when A.T. was
27-years-old-A.T. wrote that she "feel[s] damaged by
[the] relationship." (Leitch Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. C at
3.) On September 12, 2012, A.T. wrote an email to her PhD
supervisor at UCLA regarding the relationship and the grief
it caused her. (Id. ¶ 7, Ex. E at 3.) A.T.
explained in this email that, since she taught her French
class in 2009, she "realized the power dynamics that had
been operative ... [and] had a really difficult time teaching
that whole year." (Id.) On September 27, 2012,
A.T. called Mr. Verver. (Id. ¶ 9, Ex. G at
2-3.) A.T. detailed the phone call in her journal: "I
think this is when I let loose a flood of my feelings and
hurt and shame about everything ... about wanting to kill
myself, about feeling like I had zero integrity . .. and that
I felt groomed and manipulated, regardless of whether he
meant to." (Id. at 3.)
next day, on September 28, 2012, A.T. went to Cambridge
University Counseling Service. (Id.; see also
Cochran Decl. ¶ 11, Ex. J ("Cambridge
Counseling") at 146.) A.T. wrote her reason for seeking
counseling services was because she was "getting out of
a harmful relationship and [she] need[s] some help right now
while [she's] feeling very fragile." (Cambridge
Counseling at 146.) A.T. further explained:
The relationship was with a teacher, and it began while I was
still in his class ... I have only just recently (like, for
two months) allowed myself to think about this relationship
as harmful, and admitting that has been incredibly painful. .
. .This whole thing shuts me down fairly often (where I
don't get out of bed or eat really for several days at a
time); I used to think of harming myself, but not for the
last two years.
(Id.) Around this time, the people A.T. confided in
about the relationship described Mr. Verver's actions as
"abuse" and "coercion" and
"grooming." (Leitch Decl., Ex. D at 11.)
A.T. was at Cambridge, she had been exploring her sexual and
gender identity. (1st Resp. at 10-11.) A.T. eventually began
to identify as genderqueer and married another genderqueer
individual, Jack, in October 2013. (Cochran Decl. ¶ 2,
Ex. A ("A.T. Depo. Vol. I") at 4.)
returned to the United States in 2013. (1st Resp. at 11.) On
April 24, 2013, A.T. again sought therapy at UCLA. (Leitch
Decl. ¶ 11, Ex. I at 3.) On the intake form, A.T.
reported "ongoing issues around an abusive relationship,
" and that she was concerned about "Anxiety, fears,
or nervousness ... Depression ... [and] Sexual abuse or
assault." (Id.) A.T. also wrote that she was
previously in counseling "six months ago for the sexual
abuse issues." (Id.) A.T. then met with the
counselor, who noted A.T.'s diagnosis of Adjustment
Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood. (Id.
returned to UCLA counseling in May 2013, telling the
therapist that she was in "recovery from a past power
abusive relationship with [a] former teacher." (Leitch
Decl. ¶ 12, Ex. J at 3.) A.T. also reported that she
became aware of the power abusive nature of the relationship
when she started a teaching role in graduate school
(presumably referring to the 2009 French class).
(Id.) The counselor noted that A.T. had symptoms of
anxiety, depression, and difficulty concentrating, and
reiterated A.T.'s diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder with
Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood. (Id. at 3-4.)
completed the fall 2013 quarter at UCLA, but then quit her
PhD program because she "had a lot going on" and
"never obtained secure housing." (1st Resp. at
11-12.) A.T. and Jack then moved to San Francisco where A.T.
worked as a housekeeper. (Id. at 12-13.) In February
2015, A.T. had a double mastectomy to obtain a "more
masculine torso profile." (Cochran Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. B
2015, A.T. went to two job fairs to consider becoming a
substitute teacher and going back to school to earn a
teaching certificate. (1st Resp. at 12.) At both events, A.T.
was "unusually hypervigilant." (Id.)
Looking around the room at these events, A.T. was overwhelmed
with the thought that all of these people could be abusing or
hurting students, and that A.T. becoming a teacher would make
her complicit in the abuse. (Id.) At the second
event, A.T. had a panic attack. (Id.) A.T. alleges
that fall 2015:
[I]s when she realized that she had suffered an actual
psychological injury due to Craig Verver's actions: When
she realized that the physical and psychological consequences
of his abuse prevented her from successfully pursuing the
career that she had trained for, ...