MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A nearly $50 million verdict was reached against a former Miami-Dade high school teacher after a student said she was sexually assaulted and raped by him in his classroom.
“I feel relieved because I know this won’t happen again,” the victim told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “I feel protected. I feel better.”
The now 20-year-old woman said she will never forget what happened to her in 2013.
She said her former geometry teacher at South Dade Senior High School – Bresnniel Jansen – lured her in to sex acts and raped her in his classroom.
“He manipulated me. It was a perfect situation for an authority fight to take advantage of me,” she said.
Court records show Jansen pled guilty to charges including unlawful sexual activity with a minor and was put on 10 years probation. Police said he admitted to sex acts and exchanging nude pictures with the victim.
“Awful, I feel bad. I don’t want this to happen to anyone. I hope it doesn’t. If it does, speak out now,” the woman said.
Paperwork shows how a jury awarded her $49.3 million – $30 million of it for punitive damages.
“Juries like this around the country the message is that they believe victims and they are saying no more sexual abuse. No more taking advantage of people using power or their authority to control young men or women. A Miami-Dade jury just said enough is enough, this is not going to happen again,” said John Leighton, the victim’s attorney. “We had a jury that said this is so horrible that it must stop.”
Five years before she was assaulted, Jansen had been accused of inappropriately texting another student but was not disciplined.
“The message is you should be aware of your surroundings and the authority figures around you and you need to know how to separate right from wrong,” the victim said.
As for the huge verdict, the victim said she hopes the messages is that “people like him don’t do this again.”
This verdict is just against Jansen, who we were not able to reach for comment.
There was a previous and confidential settlement on the victim’s behalf with the school board.
Meanwhile, she is looking ahead to a bright future. She’s in college and plans to become a registered nurse.