A federal civil lawsuit filed earlier this year over the sexual assault of a then-13-year-old boy by a former Titusville Middle School gym teacher is headed to mediation.

The case, filed in U.S. District Court in Erie in April by the boy's mother on behalf of her son, claims Titusville Area School District and Rochelle Cressman were deliberately indifferent to the sexual assault of the boy by Cressman. 

The Meadville Tribune is not naming the boy's mother who filed the suit in order to protect the identity of the child, who still is a minor.

The federal suit also claims Cressman committed assault and battery, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress on the boy, by Cressman engaging in "a shocking and illegal course of sexual abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, and intimidation and harassment" of the child.

Cressman, 34, currently is serving a five- to 10-year state prison sentence given to her in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas in February of this year for three felony counts of statutory sexual assault for assaulting the boy. 

Pennsylvania State Police arrested Cressman in May 2019 on a total of 66 counts for sexually assaulting the boy multiple times from Sept. 13, 2018, to April 18, 2019. Cressman was 32 and the boy, who was one of her students, was 13 at the time, according to court documents.

Cressman pleaded guilty in county court in November 2020 to three counts of statutory sexual assault in a plea agreement with the Crawford County District Attorney's Office.

As part of her sentencing, Cressman must serve 10 years of probation following her release from state prison. Cressman currently is housed at the State Correctional Institution at Cambridge Springs.

Cressman also is required to register as a sexual offender for the rest of her life as she is classified as a Tier 3 sexual offender under Pennsylvania law.

The federal suit claims "multiple adults brought concerns about Defendant Cressman’s conduct to the attention of the TASD administration, through reports to the Titusville Middle School administration. Despite these repeated warnings, no one at TASD ever took any effective action to protect (the boy) from Defendant Cressman’s abusive conduct."

The federal suit claims there were credible and verifiable reports Cressman was spending time alone with minor boys outside of school and taking minor boys on trips in her car from the school parking lot. 

There also were credible and verifiable reports by teachers, students and parents Cressman was behaving in a flirtatious and inappropriate way with boys in her class, the suit claims, and Cressman was threatening teachers to prevent them from reporting her illicit behavior with the boy and/or other students.

"The failure of TASD administrators, teachers, and other school officials, constituted deliberate indifference to the sexual assault" of the boy, according to the suit.

At a telephone status conference for the case Wednesday with U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter, attorneys for the child's mother and Titusville Area School District said they are scheduled to hold a mediation session by Dec. 22 through the U.S. District Court's alternative dispute resolution program.

Under mediation, a neutral third party will review issues and attempt to help them settle their dispute without judging the merits of the case.

Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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