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Lawsuit filed over former Akron teacher in prison for having sex with student

August 27, 2018

Lawsuit filed over former Akron teacher in prison for having sex with student

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A former Buchtel High School teacher serving three years in prison after carrying out a years-long relationship with a teenage student – and even having his child – is the subject of a federal lawsuit against Akron and Tallmadge schools.

The lawsuit filed Monday in the Northern District of Ohio says administrators in both school districts knew about the relationship between Laura Lynn Cross and the student, which progressed from meeting when the student was in sixth grade to having sex and Cross obtaining partial custody of him.

However, school administrators did not take action, the suit states. The effect of the defendants’ lack of action “condoned and facilitated” an environment of sexual abuse Cross committed against the plaintiff, according to the suit.

During the relationship, Cross, 37, became pregnant with the plaintiff’s child, the lawsuit states. She gave birth in December 2015.

She pleaded guilty in March to three counts of sexual battery and is serving her sentence at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

Cleveland.com is withholding the name of the plaintiff, who is now 20 years old, because he is a victim of sexual assault.

The lawsuit names several officials at both school districts and defendants. The plaintiff brings claims based on Title IX sexual harassment and abuse and says his civil rights were violated.

He is seeking an unnamed amount in damages.

Akron Public Schools spokesman Mark Williamson said “we will withhold comment to eliminate any possibility of influencing this case.” A phone call left with Tallmadge City Schools was not immediately returned.

The lawsuit says the plaintiff met Cross when he was in sixth grade and she was his music teacher.

He then lived with his father in Alabama for a few years but returned to Akron, attending Buchtel Middle School in 2011. Cross again showed the plaintiff special attention when she was his language arts teacher, according to the suit.

She took the plaintiff swimming, bowling, to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and bought him items like Nike tennis shoes. The plantiff also spent the night at Cross’ house. They arrived at school together and left together most afternoons, according to the suit.

By September 2012, the plaintiff was a high school freshman and the pair started having sex, according to the suit. The plaintiff father reported the relationship to Buchtel officials but they took no action, the suit says.

The plaintiff attended Tallmadge High School in August 2013 because he moved into Cross’ home in that city. Cross convinced the plaintiff’s mother to give Cross partial custody, thus allowing the plaintiff to move in with her, according to the suit.

As he did at Buchtel, the plaintiff’s father reported to Tallmadge officials that Cross was sexually abusing his son, but they did nothing, according to the suit.

In summer 2015, before the plaintiff’s senior year, his mother found Twitter messages on her son’s account from Cross, the suit states. She called Akron police. The plaintiff’s father obtained emergency custody of his son and took him to Alabama, though the plaintiff later returned to Ohio to finish high school, the suit says.

Cross “applied predatorial forms of manipulation, sabotage, and abuse” in an attempt to get the plaintiff to come back, according to the suit. She was criminally charged in 2017.

If you would like to comment on this story, please visit Monday’s crime and courts comments section.

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