FISD, Crounse sexual abuse lawsuit settled

By Ken Esten Cooke —

Officials for the Fredericksburg Independent School District (FISD) announced Thursday, Sept. 5, that a settlement has been reached in a lawsuit stemming from a sexual relationship between a teacher and student.

The lawsuit developed after an improper relationship was documented between then-student Stephanie Crounse and Fredericksburg High School (FHS) physics teacher and coach, Michael G. Stevens.

In the settlement, the school district, FISD superintendent Marc Williamson and former FHS principal Lynn Blackwell were released from further claims.

In addition, attorney Charles Frigerio, representing the City of Fredericksburg, reported Tuesday that additional claims against FHS campus policeman and teacher Christopher Ayala were abandoned and dismissed without ever having been any financial settlement negotiated. Frigerio called the claim against Ayala “baseless.”

Crounse’s attorneys originally brought the suit against the district, Williamson, Blackwell and Ayala – in addition to Stevens – claiming her civil rights were violated because they failed to prevent the sexual abuse before or during the reported seven months the relationship took place.

The legal document also claimed Crounse was ridiculed, “benched” during her sports participation and removed from an extra-curricular activity.

Williamson, Blackwell and Ayala all denied knowledge of the relationship or that they “should have known,” as the suit alleged.

“The district is glad to have closure on the issue and move forward,” Williamson said. “While we recognize that an employee at the time abused the teacher-student relationship, this agreement reinforces the fact that district personnel responded in an appropriate, professional manner.”

Terms of the agreement were not released, but Williamson confirmed no tax dollars were to be contributed in the final settlement. 

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