Cameron Clarkston was only 16-years-old when he was victimized by a 25-year-old teacher at his school. But instead of officials sympathizing with the teenager, they accused him of lying, being boastful, and trying to ruin the teacher’s life.
Gail Gagne, who was a long-term substitute teacher and soon to be a full-time physical education teacher, offered Clarkston a ride home one day after school. According to Clarkston, that ride was the beginning of a two-month affair between the minor and the teacher. Clarkston said that he and Gagne had s*x in their cars, hotels, and in their homes.
Another student that was aware of the affair told school officials about the teacher’s misconduct. Gagne was fired and arrested with two felony counts of criminal s*xual abuse of a minor. Gagne denied that she had any physical conduct with Clarkston, but entered an Alford plea, which suggested that there was indeed enough evidence to convict the teacher if the case went to trial. Because Gagne entered a plea deal, her charges were reduced to a misdemeanor. Her one year sentence was then suspended. While Creatin-Durham Hall High School was ordered to pay Clarkston $75K in damages, Gagne was only ordered to pay one dollar.
Gagne’s slap on the wrist is an example of how female perpetrators of boys are seen as being less criminal than men who engage in s*xual misconduct with girls. And because Clarkston was a large, adult looking teenager, he didn’t garner much sympathy from school officials and law enforcement. The school officials felt that Clarkson should have reported the behavior, being that he was aware of the school’s policy on s*xual harassment.
Some even believe that race played a role In this matter. Clarkston, who is black, and Gagne, who is white, experienced much different responses to their relationship.
For whatever reason, Clarkston was the one that was treated harshly, while Gagne was enjoying sympathy and light consequences for her behavior. Clarkston said that he was asked by lawyers, “How something that ended in me ejaculating could possibly be abuse.”
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Clarkston, who is now 22-years-old, says that he suffered from depression because of the incident. He started skipping school, sitting in his room in the dark, and he gave up football. The depression also led to poor grades in college while attending Howard university. Clarkston said that he even engaged in alcohol and mar*juana abuse as a way to cope with the stress and confused feelings about the incident. A psychiatrist that evaluated Clarkston said that that Clarkston’s depression was a result of the s*xual abuse he endured in high school.
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