A South Carolina high school student and his mother filed a lawsuit accusing the boy’s math teacher of coercing him to have sex with her and then changing his grades when the boy would turn down her advances.
According to the New York Daily News, Burke High School teacher Jennifer Olajire-Aro was charged with sexual battery in December, but the boy and his mother filed the suit against the Charleston County School District last week, alleging that the abuse was systemic and that school officials didn’t properly supervise Olajire-Aro.
The school district has a “history of employees engaging in romantic relationships with students” the lawsuit claims.
As the Post and Courier reports, a police affidavit from December says that Olajire-Aro confessed to having “sexual encounters” with her 17-year-old student, coercing the boy to have sex multiple times, including in her home, on school grounds, and in her car.
The lawsuit alleges that, on one occasion, Olajire-Aro even “encouraged [the student] to have sex in the presence of her 10-month-old baby,” writes the Daily News. The 27-year-old teacher was married at the time.
It should go without saying that sexual relationships between teachers and students are grossly unethical and abusive: the power dynamic in the classroom ensures that the relationship will never be fair or equal, no matter how close a student and teacher are in age or how “mutual” the attraction seems to be.
According to the student’s lawsuit, Olajire-Aro took her abuse of power one step further, pressuring the boy to have sex by reminding him that “she alone controlled what grade he would receive” in math class, the Daily News reports. In one instance when the student resisted her advances, the suit alleges that the teacher made good on her threats, changing his score from a 98 to 89.
The student didn’t report the sexual abuse to his mother until after he had finished her class.
During a hearing in December, the student’s mother gave a tearful statement calling Olajire-Aro “hellacious” for what she did.
“He is 17, 17. He is not an adult,” she said. “Emotionally, he is not ready for this.”
While the criminal case against Olajire-Aro is pending, she’s still employed by the Charleston County School District, the lawsuit says.