Freshwater: Settlement in Doe v. Mt. Vernon BOE (UPDATED w/statement from family)

| 100 Comments

The Mount Vernon News is reporting this morning that a settlement between John Freshwater and the Doe family in Doe v. Mount Vernon Board of Education, et al. has been signed. Freshwater was the lone remaining defendant in that suit.

This leaves just one formal proceeding still in progress, the administrative hearing on Freshwater’s termination as a teacher in the district, where we are awaiting the referee’s recommendation to the Board.

====================================

Late this afternoon the family released this statement concerning the settlement:

As has been reported, we have settled our claims against John Freshwater. We decided to resolve the lawsuit out of court rather than proceed with a trial for several reasons. The overriding reason for settling was to avoid having to put our son and the other children that would have been called as witnesses through the public spectacle and pressures of a lengthy trial. From the beginning of this process we have always wanted to protect our son and the other kids from the highly public nature of these proceedings. When this matter began, we asked Mr. Freshwater not to publicly disclose the name of our son, but he would not agree to do so. Following this settlement, we intend to continue the efforts we began over a year ago to try to change state law to allow for the protection and privacy of children in these matters. We also decided to settle because we think the record that was developed in the state administrative proceeding and in the depositions and hearings in the federal case unequivocally shows that John Freshwater was in the wrong here. A further trial was therefore not necessary, in our view, particularly in light of our desire to protect our son and the other kids. Finally, we agreed to settle our differences to attempt to put this matter behind us. We likewise hope that the state administrative process will soon end so that all concerned can finally be done with this matter.

100 Comments

When this mess is finally over, I’ll have to go back to watching re-runs of the Lawrence Welk show.

Looks like Freshwater chose not to put his spin this settlement. The cash should cover the “forced” moving expenses and a trip to Disney with a good sum left over. An apology would have been appropriate though terribly late. If the Dennis’ are happy with the settlement, I am, too.

Freshwater’s non-statement is revealing:

In a voicemail left this morning, Freshwater said he had no comment regarding the settlement.

http://www.mountvernonnews.com/loca[…]ivil-lawsuit

No apology and he’s not even trying to spin it.

“This leaves just one formal proceeding still in progress, the administrative hearing on Freshwater’s termination as a teacher in the district”

This sentence sums up an absolutely mind bending reality. It gives me a headache to even contemplate it. Two federal cases have been settled before the administrative hearing of a single high school teacher in a relatively small district. We have the expression “make a federal case out of it” for a reason!

The referee for the administrative hearing should be so embarrassed by the time and resources he allowed to be wasted on this circus.

Ryan Cunningham said: This sentence sums up an absolutely mind bending reality. It gives me a headache to even contemplate it. Two federal cases have been settled before the administrative hearing of a single high school teacher in a relatively small district. We have the expression “make a federal case out of it” for a reason!

The referee for the administrative hearing should be so embarrassed by the time and resources he allowed to be wasted on this circus.

One possible reason the referee might have bent so far backwards for Freshwater is to lessen the chance of a successful suit after the finding (i.e. a suit based on the claim that the hearing process was unfair). It is somewhat frightening to contemplate the idea that this might not be over - there might be a 4th legal proceeding. But even with that justification, I agree the ref should be embarrassed. Particularly in terms of timetable, he’s gone far beyond what he needed to do to be ‘fair’ Freshwater and Hamilton.

VICTORY!

1) The Plantiffs accepted the settlement - they didn’t want to put the kids through a trial - Freshwater (via his insurer) pays damages (in my book this is tantamount to an admission of guilt)

2) School district to (did?) train teachers on keeping religion OUT of the classroom.

3) Freshwater dropped his case vs. the schoolboard

I cannot see how the referee cannot now recomend that Freshwaters termination goes forward, and (IANAL) but I don’t see what legal recouse Freshwater now has - he’s gone. anyone know if under the terms of his contrct he looses his pension?

I hope that the message that comes out of this is 1) to administrators - ACT it will be expensive to your district (and your reputation) if you allow your classrooms to be used as ministries 2) to teachers that would be preachers - your actions will be costly to your community, your school district, your career and YOU financially - wouldn’t be better for everyone concerned if you took a job at a religious school?

also those high volatage devices are not toys - don’t burn your students

“As part of the settlement agreement, the Dennis family has agreed to forego recovery of the sanctions awarded to them by the federal district judge presiding over the case.”

Damn it!

That let Hamilton off the hook.

Gary Hurd said:

“As part of the settlement agreement, the Dennis family has agreed to forego recovery of the sanctions awarded to them by the federal district judge presiding over the case.”

Damn it!

That let Hamilton off the hook.

Assuming the judge signs off on it.

I could see a judge deciding that the settlement can’t include that, since it was the judge’s order that he pay, and that couldn’t be part of an agreement between the parties.

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

Gary Hurd said:

“As part of the settlement agreement, the Dennis family has agreed to forego recovery of the sanctions awarded to them by the federal district judge presiding over the case.”

Damn it!

That let Hamilton off the hook.

Maybe (being generous here) Freshwater was confusing his two court cases when he talked about money being left on the table. Maybe he was referring to the Dennis’ lawyers saying they were willing to forego the sanctions in Doe.

The cash should cover the “forced” moving expenses and a trip to Disney with a good sum left over.

Why waste fuel on a trip to Disney when these guys already live in Fantasy Land? Besides, Disney already has a Dumbo and a Goofy.

Gary Hurd said:

“As part of the settlement agreement, the Dennis family has agreed to forego recovery of the sanctions awarded to them by the federal district judge presiding over the case.”

Damn it!

That let Hamilton off the hook.

No he still owes the money the school was granted when sanctions were awarded in that suit.

Karen, I imagine that the cash in question is going to the Dennis family. They were the plaintiffs in this case.

So it looks to me like the Dennis family will be getting about $455K plus an additional $115K that goes to their lawyer all being paid by the district’s insurance carrier. I think that is way too much for their pain and suffering but that’s just my opinion. Hamilton doesn’t have to pay sanctions (that sucks) but John Freshwater still has to pay Hamilton. Freshwater claims to be nearly bankrupt but I really wonder how much his total legal bill will be. Is he really going to have sign over his farm to his incompetant attorney? Maybe Freshwater will sue Hamilton for poor representation. Nah! Even Freshwater isn’t crazy enough to do that.

Mary M said: Maybe Freshwater will sue Hamilton for poor representation. Nah! Even Freshwater isn’t crazy enough to do that.

Its only crazy because the two were probably partners in their various lies, so such a move would be a form of mutually assured destruction. Ignoring that, if Freshwater got highly competent representation I imagine he could win. Hamilton’s performance in court does not appear to be very good. And he wouldn’t be able to use his standard tricks of failing to show up or not turning over evidence in a timely manner, since doing those things just add further support to the incompetence claim.

Mary M said:

So it looks to me like the Dennis family will be getting about $455K plus an additional $115K that goes to their lawyer all being paid by the district’s insurance carrier. I think that is way too much for their pain and suffering but that’s just my opinion. Hamilton doesn’t have to pay sanctions (that sucks) but John Freshwater still has to pay Hamilton. Freshwater claims to be nearly bankrupt but I really wonder how much his total legal bill will be. Is he really going to have sign over his farm to his incompetant attorney? Maybe Freshwater will sue Hamilton for poor representation. Nah! Even Freshwater isn’t crazy enough to do that.

too much for their pain and suffering

I agree - I suspect that the majority of this would be punitive damages vs compensatory damages (punishment vs actual pain/suffering)

and I really hope that Hamilton isn’t off the hook - maybe Judge Frost will do whatever judges do to get lawyers dis-barred

Mary M said:

So it looks to me like the Dennis family will be getting about $455K plus an additional $115K that goes to their lawyer all being paid by the district’s insurance carrier. I think that is way too much for their pain and suffering but that’s just my opinion. Hamilton doesn’t have to pay sanctions (that sucks) but John Freshwater still has to pay Hamilton. Freshwater claims to be nearly bankrupt but I really wonder how much his total legal bill will be. Is he really going to have sign over his farm to his incompetant attorney? Maybe Freshwater will sue Hamilton for poor representation. Nah! Even Freshwater isn’t crazy enough to do that.

Doesn’t the Dennis family have just as large lawyer bills as Freshwater?

Mary M said:

So it looks to me like the Dennis family will be getting about $455K plus an additional $115K that goes to their lawyer all being paid by the district’s insurance carrier. I think that is way too much for their pain and suffering but that’s just my opinion. Hamilton doesn’t have to pay sanctions (that sucks) but John Freshwater still has to pay Hamilton. Freshwater claims to be nearly bankrupt but I really wonder how much his total legal bill will be. Is he really going to have sign over his farm to his incompetant attorney? Maybe Freshwater will sue Hamilton for poor representation. Nah! Even Freshwater isn’t crazy enough to do that.

I’m actually more irritated that Hamilton isn’t being held responsible for his roll in all of this. Freshwater will most likely lose a job he held dearly, and will have to move, and leave a church that’s offered him a lot of support, if he wants to replace the job. On top of which, he’ll have to pay legal bills to Hamilton. While Hamilton seems to have been not only an enabler of Freshwater, but a primary author of the various narratives that came out of their camp and a decider of what evidence they would produce and when they would produce it. Does anyone think Freshwater on his own would have come up with the deposition debacle? Or that Freshwater had much to do with the tesla-coil-like device wandering into the Hamiltons’ freezer. I really feel that Hamilton wrote a lot of the scripts that Freshwater recited, but as far as I can tell he’s not facing any sanctions or repercussions.

jasonmitchell said:

Mary M said:

So it looks to me like the Dennis family will be getting about $455K plus an additional $115K that goes to their lawyer all being paid by the district’s insurance carrier. I think that is way too much for their pain and suffering but that’s just my opinion. Hamilton doesn’t have to pay sanctions (that sucks) but John Freshwater still has to pay Hamilton. Freshwater claims to be nearly bankrupt but I really wonder how much his total legal bill will be. Is he really going to have sign over his farm to his incompetant attorney? Maybe Freshwater will sue Hamilton for poor representation. Nah! Even Freshwater isn’t crazy enough to do that.

too much for their pain and suffering

I agree - I suspect that the majority of this would be punitive damages vs compensatory damages (punishment vs actual pain/suffering)

and I really hope that Hamilton isn’t off the hook - maybe Judge Frost will do whatever judges do to get lawyers dis-barred

Is the actual situation that the Dennises are getting the damages from the insurance company, and are being magnanimous in not pursuing Freshwater and Hamilton personally, and that in reality this is entirely pragmatic, since the insurers will pay up, whereas expecting F&H to stump up in finite time would be terminally optimistic. And surely none of this removes the fact of the imposition of sanctions from the record?

eric said:

Mary M said: Maybe Freshwater will sue Hamilton for poor representation. Nah! Even Freshwater isn’t crazy enough to do that.

Its only crazy because the two were probably partners in their various lies, so such a move would be a form of mutually assured destruction. Ignoring that, if Freshwater got highly competent representation I imagine he could win. Hamilton’s performance in court does not appear to be very good. And he wouldn’t be able to use his standard tricks of failing to show up or not turning over evidence in a timely manner, since doing those things just add further support to the incompetence claim.

I agree. IANAL, but perhaps if Freshwater could prove that Hamilton can up with the deposition gambit, or falsified evidence or testimony, he might have a chance at a suit. He case would basically be that he was baby in the legal woods, so didn’t know what was appropriate or not, and was led grievously astray by Hamilton. I’m not sure how solid such a ship would be, but it might sail, and continue the saga without cost to innocent parties. Well aexcept perhaps judge Frost, or the poor judge that gets the case on their docket.

Mary M said:

So it looks to me like the Dennis family will be getting about $455K plus an additional $115K that goes to their lawyer all being paid by the district’s insurance carrier. I think that is way too much for their pain and suffering but that’s just my opinion. Hamilton doesn’t have to pay sanctions (that sucks) but John Freshwater still has to pay Hamilton. Freshwater claims to be nearly bankrupt but I really wonder how much his total legal bill will be. Is he really going to have sign over his farm to his incompetant attorney? Maybe Freshwater will sue Hamilton for poor representation. Nah! Even Freshwater isn’t crazy enough to do that.

Hi Mary, I have to respectfully disagree with you about the sum of money being paid as being too much. The family did have to move from their home of a number of years, Zac was subjected to taunting and harassment (imagine how he felt seeing signs that said “The Bible must stay, the student must go”). He and his family were called liars at various times by both of the Freshwaters in various media outlets. I regret that the insurance company is the one to pay for this instead of Freshwater but perhaps some good will come of that. Maybe the insurance company will request/require that the board of education institute regular (annual?) workshops for educators demonstrating what the seperation of church and state is all about. Just my opinion.

I doubt that Freshwater will sue Hamilton. I think that in such a situation, the usual attorney-client confidentiality is waived, and Hamilton would be free to tell everything he knows to defend himself. It wouldn’t be pretty.

CMB said:

Hi Mary, I have to respectfully disagree with you about the sum of money being paid as being too much. The family did have to move from their home of a number of years, Zac was subjected to taunting and harassment (imagine how he felt seeing signs that said “The Bible must stay, the student must go”). He and his family were called liars at various times by both of the Freshwaters in various media outlets. I regret that the insurance company is the one to pay for this instead of Freshwater but perhaps some good will come of that.

Agreed. The family was forever changed and had to move to another town because they dared to report Freshwater burning their child.

It’s too bad it won’t be Freshwater paying for this and its also disappointing that Freshwater didn’t have to make a public apology.

The Curmudgeon said:

When this mess is finally over, I’ll have to go back to watching re-runs of the Lawrence Welk show.

You won’t have time. You’ll be covering all of Casey Luskin’s tantrums about the case. Oh wait…

I’d like to point out that Sam Stickle’s website hasn’t reported the news that the “Doe” case is settled yet, despite immediately posting other information.

As usual, the right wing religious press has released a “story” today that contains few relevant facts. It’s from “OneNeuronNow” and it’s a funny read if you can stand it. http://www.onenewsnow.com/Education[…]x?id=1216140

Hieronymus Fortesque Lickspittle said:

As usual, the right wing religious press has released a “story” today that contains few relevant facts. It’s from “OneNeuronNow” and it’s a funny read if you can stand it. http://www.onenewsnow.com/Education[…]x?id=1216140

Even though the article omits several important details (like creationism in public schools is illegal and Freshwater was found to be a liar in federal court) all the comments are negative about Freshwater.

Also the author, Bill Bumpas, has a history of a wacko articles. See his “Schools claim Lucifer as model and guardian” article.

eric said: One possible reason the referee might have bent so far backwards for Freshwater is to lessen the chance of a successful suit after the finding (i.e. a suit based on the claim that the hearing process was unfair).

Unless Freshwater’s suit was EXTREMELY successful, it seems to me that losing in court later still would’ve cost less than the administrative hearing. And if the other two cases are any indication, it would’ve been settled faster!

Steve said:

Hieronymus Fortesque Lickspittle said:

As usual, the right wing religious press has released a “story” today that contains few relevant facts. It’s from “OneNeuronNow” and it’s a funny read if you can stand it. http://www.onenewsnow.com/Education[…]x?id=1216140

Even though the article omits several important details (like creationism in public schools is illegal and Freshwater was found to be a liar in federal court) all the comments are negative about Freshwater.

Also the author, Bill Bumpas, has a history of a wacko articles. See his “Schools claim Lucifer as model and guardian” article.

Finn Laurson ,who is quoted in this story, testified on Freshwaters behalf in the termination hearing.

One possible reason the referee might have bent so far backwards for Freshwater is to lessen the chance of a successful suit after the finding (i.e. a suit based on the claim that the hearing process was unfair).

I wonder if the referee is a local guy, who would perhaps be subject to the same kind of harrassment the Dennises faced, should he rule against Freshwater. Does he have children in the local schools? Does he have another day job that might be jeopardized?

One gets the impression that the local Christian actions don’t reflect the brotherly love and cheek-turning that their protestations of faith require of them.

Karen, I imagine that the cash in question is going to the Dennis family. They were the plaintiffs in this case.

Thanks…my mistake…I skimmed through this too fast.

jasonmitchell said:

I don’t see school board results - but Mt. Vernon residents voted DOWN for “emergency funding” for Mt. Vernon schools

There were no Mount Vernon school board election this time. And sadly all 4 school issues in the county failed.

CMB said:

jasonmitchell said:

I don’t see school board results - but Mt. Vernon residents voted DOWN for “emergency funding” for Mt. Vernon schools

There were no Mount Vernon school board election this time. And sadly all 4 school issues in the county failed.

Uh huh, two of them (East Knox and North Fork) failed by greater margins than Mt. Vernon’s. That suggests that it was a generalilzed “No more taxes” vote, amplified by the Tea Partiers, rather than a referendum on the Freshwater affair in the Mt. Vernon schools. That inference is supported by the fact that in the contested elections in the county, Republicans won by around the same margin as that by which the levies failed.

I’m hoping someone can figure this out because I’m not really getting it.

This was printed in Thursday evenings, Mount Vernon News Classified Section under Special Notices:

“The school administration, evolutionists, and ACLU have avoided the abhorence(sic) of the ‘human body cordwood’ evolutionist Nazi era. Humane Humanists?”

Ralph said:

I’m hoping someone can figure this out because I’m not really getting it…

Someone bought classified ad space to write an op-ed. They seem to have wanted to communicate the ‘darwinism responsible for nazis’ meme, but like many crazy people epically failed to get their point across. I don’t think there’s much to figure beyond that.

Drawing on my extensive experience as a literary critic, I would say that the subtextual imagery suggests that the person placing that notice was small, probably an only child, ambidextrous, slightly afflicted with hay fever, and barking mad.

Ralph said:

I’m hoping someone can figure this out because I’m not really getting it.

This was printed in Thursday evenings, Mount Vernon News Classified Section under Special Notices:

“The school administration, evolutionists, and ACLU have avoided the abhorence(sic) of the ‘human body cordwood’ evolutionist Nazi era. Humane Humanists?”

We have a local person who writes a religiously themed letter to the editor once a month. I believe the quotes came from his letter that was printed earlier this week. I read his letters (or as much as I can get through) because he is the father of a high school classmate of mine. This week’s letter mentioned Freshwater (a first by this writer IIRC). He is fixated to say the least.

CMB said: We have a local person who writes a religiously themed letter to the editor once a month. I believe the quotes came from his letter that was printed earlier this week…

…He is fixated to say the least.

Based on reading many creationist letters to the editor, I tend to think newspapers throw in the occasional batty letter just for kicks. Dear readers: here’s three letters you might find interesting or thought provoking. And one for the LOLZ. Or to put it another way: here’s three where we’re laughing with you, and one where we’re laughing at you.

As of November 5, 2010, Sam Stickle’s www.AccountabilityInTheMedia.com still makes no mention of the $450,000 settlement.

I guess he can’t spin the settlement.

New article in the ‘Mount Vernon News’ by Pamela Schehl:

… Hearing referee R. Lee Shepherd told the News on Monday that within the last week to 10 days additional written materials have been submitted by both the school board attorney David Millstone and Freshwater’s lawyer Kelly Hamilton. …

Source: http://www.mountvernonnews.com/loca[…]-end-of-year

It’s the court case which won’t die! Zombie litigation. Perpetual motion to dismiss / strike / compel / quash or whatever.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on October 27, 2010 10:45 AM.

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