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Oklahoma School District to Pay $3.5 Million in Sex Abuse Settlement

The Perry School District in Oklahoma has agreed to pay $3.5 million to victims of sexual abuse.

Information About the Perry District Settlement

According to KTUL, the Perry School District will pay $250,000 to each of the 14 victims  in a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by a teaching assistant. The payment will be in the form of an annuity with $3.5 million coming from the district’s insurance and $2.8 million from property taxes.

Perry School Officials Ignored Abuse Reports

The 85-year-old teaching assistant, Arnold Cowen, was arrested and accused of sexual abuse two years ago. Students reported the abuse to teachers and the school principal but school officials took no action. Instead, the principal and teachers accused the students of lying on Cowen.

Oklahoma is a mandatory reporting state, which requires that school officials report all incidents of child abuse to the authorities. The lawsuit accused the school officials and the Perry School District of failure to report.

Sexual Abuse in Schools

According to the organization Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation (SESAME), 3.5 million 8th-11th graders in the United States reported unwanted sexual contact by a teacher between 2011 and 2015.

What to do if You Suspect a Child is Being Sexually Abused 

Child sexual abuse is a crime that often goes undetected. You have the power to make an enormous, positive difference in a child’s life. Here are steps to take if you think a child is a victim of sexual abuse:

  1. Recognize the signs, both physical and behavioral 
  2. Talk to the child
    • Choose a safe space away from the person you may suspect of causing the abuse.
    • Speak to the child in a casual, non-threatening tone to keep the child at ease.
    • Talk to the child directly, using words that the child will understand.
    • Avoid judgmental statements and questions and avoid blaming the child.
    • Be reassuring to the child and let them know that you are concerned for them.
  3. Report it to authorities
    • Before reporting, tell the child you are going to talk to someone else who can help.
    • Make sure the child is in a safe place, and if you are concerned about the child’s safety, be sure to let the authorities know.
    • If you are not concerned that the parents are the ones causing harm, consult with them prior to reporting to authorities.

Contact an Experienced Sexual Abuse Attorney

If you believe that your child has been the victim of sexual abuse, contact Thomas J. Henry. For over two decades, Thomas J. Henry has been an advocate for sexually abused children across the state of Texas. Our experienced child injury lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to take your call. Contact us today for a free legal consultation.


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