A lawsuit alleging negligence by Cretin-Derham Hall for hiring a substitute teacher who sexually assaulted a student in 2008 has been settled, according to court records.
The suit, filed by a former student in Ramsey County District Court, claimed that the private Catholic high school in St. Paul failed to supervise the teacher, Gail E. Gagne, failed to prevent her misconduct and is liable for her actions.
The school’s attorney, Teri Bentson, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Jeff Anderson, who is representing the student, said the settlement, reached Tuesday, hasn’t been written up, and that he would leave it up to his client to choose whether or not to disclose the details. The school did not admit liability in the settlement.
“He felt like he needed to not only stand up for himself,” Anderson said Wednesday, “but that he needed to stand up for what was wrong, and that’s the way he was treated.”
Anderson said that in the aftermath of the criminal case against Gagne, the school failed to protect the student, who was bullied and targeted by other students.
“[Cretin-Derham Hall] didn’t say, ‘This was criminal sexual conduct, and he’s innocent,’ ” Anderson said. “It made school more difficult for him, and life more difficult for him.”
The suit also names Gagne, 32, as a plaintiff. Gagne’s attorney, Earl Gray, said Wednesday that his client settled with the student a week or two ago for $1.
“The reason she settled for a dollar was because it would cost her a ton more money to go to trial,” Gray said.
Gagne was hired by Cretin-Derham Hall in 2007 as an assistant basketball coach and worked as a substitute teacher from January to September 2008, at which point she was hired as a full-time teacher.
Gagne also worked as a weight-room instructor the summer of 2008, when she met the student, who was 16 at the time. She sexually assaulted him from July to September 2008.
Gagne pleaded guilty in 2011 to fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, a gross misdemeanor, and was sentenced to a year of probation. Gagne, the daughter of former professional wrestler Greg Gagne and the granddaughter of former wrestler Vern Gagne, was also required to register as a sex offender.
The lawsuit said that the student participated in the school’s work-study program, reported directly to Gagne and worked under her direction. Gagne’s actions caused the student ongoing “emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, humiliation and psychological injuries,” the suit said.
Anderson and Bentson were in court Monday sparring over various aspects of the case, which was scheduled to go to trial next week.
In the heated motion hearing, Anderson said the student sought help from a friend who was a counseling intern at his university in Washington, D.C. The student was wrestling with the emotional fallout of the Gagne case and having trouble in school, Anderson said.