The Utah Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed against a Utah school district over ex-teacher Brianne Altice, who had sex with three male students.
The male student who brought the lawsuit said the school district was negligent in hiring and supervising Altice. He claimed that the Davis School District knew or should have known that the teacher was fired in the past for sexual misconduct. The male victim told the court that the two began a romantic relationship in 2013 after they flirted with each other in class and started having sex. The lawsuit sought at least $674,000 in damages.
When it came out that Altice slept with her male students, she was arrested and sentenced to up to 30 years in prison in 2015. She pled guilty to sexual abuses charges in exchange for a plea deal. Davis County prosecutors agreed to drop 11 other felony charges, including first-degree felony rape. It is unlikely that Altice will serve her maximum sentence.
During her sentencing, she cried and apologized to the victims. Altice said she made a mistake during a very vulnerable time in her life.
The mother of the then 16-year-old student did not take Altice’s apology seriously and said that her son was also a victim and that she hurt him in more ways than she will know.
Deputy Davis County attorney Cristina Ortega also did not believe Altice’s apology was sincere. She said that Altice has made many excuses and didn’t take responsibility for her actions.
“This is not just a mistake, it was a mistake that was repeated with three separate students,” Ortega added.
Altice was denied parole on Jan. 24, but she is scheduled for a rehearing in April 2019.
Despite all of this, the court sided with the Davis School District and threw out the lawsuit because the school district had legal protection against any injuries that may been caused by Altice.
“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,” Judge Ryan M. 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 added that the Utah Supreme Court handled a similar case decades ago and even recommended that the Utah State Legislature change the laws to give victims some civil remedy.
The Davis School District dealt with another lawsuit filed by a second victim of Altice in 2015, but that was dismissed under the same grounds. This lawsuit also sought $674,000 in damages.
Judge Morris said he was constrained by the law and had no choice but to dismiss the lawsuit.