Miami's Leighton Law firm said a Miami-Dade County jury awarded $49.3 million to a former student who was raped by her South Dade Senior High School geometry teacher in his classroom.
The case dates back to January 2014 when Bresnniel Jansen, a former geometry teacher at the Homestead school, was arrested on two counts of sexual act with a familial child and one count of electronic transmission harmful to minors.
The firm said the "horrible acts" began when the victim was a 16-year-old sophomore and Jansen carried out "a semester's worth of abuse."
Jansen's behavior escalated from emails and texts to raping the teen on his desk during school hours, the law firm said.
The victim spoke to NBC 6 about the horrifying experience.
"I was raped by my geometry professor. I was 16 years old at the time, and he had complete control over me," the victim said. "I try not thinking about it and I don’t speak of it unless I have to face a certain situation. But other than that I try and go about my normal day."
As more and more allegations of sexual harassment and assaults flood the news since the case against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein first broke, the victim calls on others not to suffer in silence.
"It's crazy to see how often this goes on in the world and even though so many people keep coming out, it's still going on," she said. "Speak out now. It's never too late. Don’t be afraid. There’s people rooting for you."
A case affidavit shows Jansen admitted to the allegations after being read his Miranda rights. Jansen pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years probation along with sex offender status. He later violated the terms of his probation and was jailed, the firm added.
"While acting as her teacher, between September and December of 2013, Jansen sexually abused [the victim] on numerous occasions by engaging in oral sex and digital penetration of her vagina," the lawsuit filed in December 2014 reads. "These acts occurred inside South Dade High School during school hours and inside Jansen's classroom. The sexual abuse continued and escalated to rape."
The jury's verdict of $49.3 million, including $30 million in punitive damages, was returned late Tuesday. The victim also settled with the school district for an undisclosed amount.
"Especially in light of the national spotlight on this very subject, it is important for victims of sexual abuse to have their day in court," attorney John Leighton said. "This verdict will send a message, especially where abusers and rapists take advantage of the criminal justice system. No longer will our client be the hunted victim."
A South Florida father told NBC 6 in 2014 that Jansen inappropriately texted his teenage daughter in 2008 when she was his student.
“She reported it to school and then they did an investigation and it ended up that nothing happened,” the father said.