• U.S.
  • Courts

L.A. School District Fires Lawyer Who Faulted Student in Teacher Sex Case

2 minute read

It’s one thing to argue in court that a 14-year-old student shares responsibility for a sexual relationship with her 28-year-old teacher. It’s another, apparently, to make insensitive public comments about the success of that unorthodox legal strategy.

On Nov. 14, the Los Angeles Unified School District fired a lawyer who had successfully represented the district when it was sued by the girl and her family. In a civil jury trial in late 2013, the lawyer, W. Keith Wyatt, argued that the girl’s sexual past was relevant to what occurred and that she knew engaging in sex with her teacher was wrong and therefore was partly to blame. Such a legal strategy is highly unusual, according to legal experts and victims’ advocates. (The teacher was sentenced in 2011 to three years in prison for lewd acts against a minor.) According to public radio station KPCC, which first reported details about the civil case, Wyatt said in his closing statement at trial:

“She wants to be paid for doing something that she knew was wrong, that she acknowledged was wrong, that she knew was from the beginning,” Wyatt argued, adding, “She doesn’t want therapy, she wants money. That’s what they are asking you for.”

The jury found that the district was not negligent nor liable for damages. That decision is being appealed.

Asked by KPCC to explain his legal reasoning, Wyatt told the station, “She lied to her mother so she could have sex with her teacher…She went to a motel in which she engaged in voluntary consensual sex with her teacher. Why shouldn’t she be responsible for that?”

Wyatt later apologized for his comments, but amid a public outcry, the district said Wyatt’s statements to KPCC were “completely inappropriate” and he was let go.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com