Personal injury lawyers involved in a lawsuit filed against a Utah teacher are disappointed over the dismissal of the lawsuit filed by the family of a student who was sexually abused by a teacher. The Utah Attorney General’s office argued that the district is immune in the case.
In a motion filed last week, the attorney general’s office argues that the school district and Davis High School, by virtue of being government entities, are immune from responsibility for injuries caused by Brianne Land Altice, 35, who pleaded guilty last month to sexually abusing three students.
The personal injury lawsuit, filed April 8 by one of the three victims and his parents, claims the district and high school failed to thoroughly investigate Altice’s background before hiring her and did not properly train their staff to report suspected inappropriate behavior.
The sexual relationship between the English teacher and the student, who was 16 years old when the relationship began, caused the boy confusion and shame, according to the lawsuit.
“However traumatic this experience may have been for (the student), the district is not liable for its impact,” the motion to dismiss states.
The boy’s parents also claim to have suffered severe fear and distress over what happened to their son. The lawsuit asks for at least $300,000 for counseling and court expenses.
Another of the victims and his parents filed a separate lawsuit against the school district in March seeking at least $674,000 in damages. In that lawsuit, that boy’s parents claim that because of the district’s negligence, their son suffered “severe psychological and/or physical injury, mental pain and experiences emotional anguish.”
A motion to dismiss has not been filed in that case.
Police say Altice befriended the boys while they were students, eventually progressing to three separate sexual relationships between Nov. 1, 2013, and Aug. 25, 2014, meeting the teens for sex at parks, in cars and at her home while her then-husband was away. The couple has since divorced.
The lawsuit alleges Altice didn’t resist compliments like “you’re sexy” from male students, with the flirtations prompting schoolwide jokes about “Who is Mrs. Altice sleeping with now?”
In a plea deal, Altice pleaded guilty to three counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony, while 11 other felony charges were dropped. Altice had been facing four trials and 14 felony charges— including rape, forcible sodomy, forcible sexual abuse, unlawful sexual activity with a minor and dealing in materials harmful to a minor — stemming from sexual relationships with the three former Davis High students who were 16 or 17 years old at the time.
Four of those charges were filed stemming from continued sexual encounters between Altice and one of the victims while Altice was out on bail.
Altice was originally scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday. That hearing has since been postponed but a new sentencing date has not been set.