MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

July 18, 2013

Ex-teacher's sex crimes basis for suit

Daughter claims Checotah district didn’t protect her

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— EUFAULA — A former Checotah Public Schools student is suing the district, alleging its staff failed to protect her against sexual misconduct by her mother.

Lauren McCutchan, who is the daughter of former Checotah teacher Michelle McCutchan, is the plaintiff in the lawsuit, according to court documents.

Michelle McCutchan was accused of having sex with students in the summer of 2010. She pleaded guilty in September 2012 and received a 15-year prison sentence for two counts of second-degree rape, two counts of sodomy, providing alcohol to minors and child neglect.

The petition filed Monday alleges that the school district not only knew about the allegations and did not report them to the proper authorities, but also created a hostile educational environment for Lauren, resulting in humiliation, degradation and emotional trauma.

Superintendent Janet Blocker, who began the job July 1, was in meetings Wednesday and was unavailable for an interview, a district spokeswoman said.

The school district’s attorney, Greg Stidham, did not return a call for comment Wednesday.

The petition in the case says Lauren McCutchan was one of the victims of the charges against Michelle McCutchan regarding sexual misconduct with students.

The Checotah school staff are accused of knowing about the allegations against Michelle McCutchan but taking no action to “prevent that harm to Lauren or any other of the victims of those crimes,” according to the petition.

Allegedly, the district’s failure to take action resulted in the creation of a “hostile and detrimental educational environment,” and Lauren McCutchan was subjected to “discrimination, harassment and retaliation for reporting sexual misconduct, exploitation and abuse.”

The petition also alleges that Lauren McCutchan suffered physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma, humiliation, degradation and loss of reputation as a direct result of Checotah Public Schools’ failures.

Lauren McCutchan is asking for damages in excess of $10,000, according to the court document.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.