Utah court dismisses lawsuit over teacher jailed 30 years for having sex with students


UTAH – A lawsuit brought against a Utah school district over ex-teacher Brianne Altice (pictured), who was imprisoned for having sex with three male students, was tossed by the Utah Court of Appeals, Fox 13 reported.

The ruling, published Friday night, upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit filed against the Davis School District over the actions of Altice, 38. She’s currently serving a prison sentence for forcible sex abuse with three students.

Altice taught at Davis High School. As a result of the criminal investigation and successful prosecution, she was sentenced in 2015 to serve up to 30 years behind bars.

A male victim sued the Davis School District claiming it had been negligent in hiring and supervising the teacher — and keeping her employed, according to the station.

The plaintiff said he was 16 when “one of his high school teachers (Teacher) initiated a romantic relationship with him,” Judge Ryan M. Harris of the Utah Court of Appeals explained in a ruling.

The plaintiff, Harris wrote, claimed “at the time it hired Teacher, the District knew, or at least should have known, that Teacher ‘had been previously terminated from former employment due to sexual misconduct.’”

The Davis School District responded that it is protected under governmental immunity laws from any injuries that were proximately caused by the teacher. In its ruling, the three judge panel of the Utah Court of Appeals agreed — somewhat reluctantly, Fox 13 reported.

“It might seem counterintuitive that our law provides no civil remedy against a school district that is alleged to have negligently hired and retained a teacher who has illegal sexual contact with her minor students,” Harris wrote. “But this conclusion is, in our view, compelled by [the Governmental Immunity Act of Utah] and by Utah Supreme Court precedent.”

Judge Harris wrote that the Utah Supreme Court had grappled with a similar case decades ago, and had actually suggested the Utah State Legislature to modify the laws to give some civil remedy to victims in cases like this.

“In the intervening years, however, our legislature has not amended the Act to expressly provide for such a remedy. Under the language of the Act— under either one of two possible interpretations, and as the Act has been interpreted by our supreme court—the District is entirely immune from suit for the acts alleged here,” Judge Harris wrote. “Accordingly, the district court correctly dismissed [the teen’s] complaint.”

Two other students have filed federal lawsuits against the Davis School District making similar allegations.

Altice was denied parole after she said in a January hearing, “I clearly lost sight of all my values and my principles and was seeking inappropriate means to address my own issues,” Fox 13 reported.

The next parole hearing for the mother of two is scheduled for April 2019.

(Photo: Utah State Prison)

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