Tulsa County District Court jury rules against former Owasso teacher in ex-student's death

Saturday, September 27th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A jury on Friday ruled against an ex-Owasso teacher who had a sexual relationship with one of her former students.

The panel found Friday that Irene Taliaferro acted with ``reckless disregard'' when she provided a loaded gun to David Medlin, a drunken, distraught young man who killed himself in her bedroom three years ago.

The jury awarded no actual damages but gave $5,410 in punitive damages to Medlin's family.

``For the family, this was never about the money,'' said Jim Connor, an attorney for Medlin's mother, Tamme Dopps. ``The Dopps wanted to ensure that teachers and counselors knew it was not acceptable to sleep with students and provide them a loaded gun in an emotionally distraught state. The jury so found, and for that we are grateful.''

Connor said, however, that the jury's inconsistent verdicts likely will result in a motion for a new trial on the issue of damages.

Taliaferro was 43 and Medlin was 19 when she taught him at the Owasso alternative high school in 1999.

Taliaferro testified that the two initially were friends but their relationship became sexual shortly after she quit her job that year.

Taliaferro, who also was a school counselor, had been disciplined regarding ``boundary issues'' with students, a school director testified.

Taliaferro's attorney, Brad Jackson, said Medlin ``made a choice'' to commit suicide and that Taliaferro wasn't responsible.

The state Health Department's Division of Professional Counselor Licensing is currently investigating a complaint against Taliaferro.

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