Lawsuit settlement cases are no longer news in these litigious times of crowded court dockets and rising legal fees. As such, news about the latest lawsuit settlement payment rarely raises an eyebrow among a desensitized public used to such reporting, but a recent $260,000 settlement in Norman, Oklahoma’s Cleveland County District Court provides the victim of a local sexual abuse case closure in the aftermath of an egregious sexual misconduct case.
The allegations and resultant criminal probe witnessed the closing of Moore Christian School in light of the accusations first leveled in February 2012 against school science teacher, Gregory Alan Saul Sr.
Pattern of Misconduct
According to court records, the complaints of the unidentified victim triggered the arrest of the former Moore Church teacher after she went to her guardian to report the abuse that reportedly continued from August 2011 to January 2012. The girl’s guardian sued Eastern Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, which operated Moore Christian School, along with all of the governing members of the church and the school’s superintendent in 2012.
A subsequent 2014 decision tossed the guardian’s legal case, but a later Appellate Court ruling overturned that legal opinion on appeal this past January.
The suit alleges that the school and church leaders were negligent in their hiring, retention, and supervision of Saul, 64, who purportedly groomed the then 13-year old girl for sex over a lengthy period of time during school hours, and after class on at least five occasions when he met the girl off campus. Charging documents note that Saul had given the young teenager a promise ring before asking her to marry him and move to Mexico.
Terms of Settlements
In an effort to avoid further litigation, Eastern Avenue Missionary Baptist Church’s insurer, Church Mutual Insurance Company, opted to settle out of court for $260,000 on condition that the payment not to be construed as an admission of guilt in the matter. The judge approved the monetary agreement on June 9, 2015.
The $260,000 award is to be split as follows:
- $113,048—structured arrangement to benefit the victim
- $29,461.82—to cover the expenses of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority
- $117,489—legal fees and litigation costs
In a related development, Saul fled Oklahoma jurisdiction following a no-show to a status conference in January 2014. He was captured by Texan officials and had been fighting extradition back to the Sooner State. That fight ended July 1, 2015 when the San Antonio, Texas Court of Appeals who ruled on that day that Saul should be sent back to face justice in Oklahoma.