Former Student Fights Teacher for Custody of Their Son

A former Strongsville High School student is suing the school district and the police department, claiming they did nothing to stop an affair he had with a teacher. He is also fighting for custody of the child he fathered with the woman, nearly 20 years his senior.

Steven Bradigan, 20, and his family have filed suit in Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court seeking custody of his 2-year-old son.

Bradigan said his relationship with Christine Scarlett began when he was a 17-year-old junior at Strongsville High School in a special education class. He said Scarlett, who was then a 36-year-old substitute teacher with the district, Strongsville City Schools, held a win-a-date-with-a-teacher contest. When Bradigan won, she took him to Dairy Queen.

Scarlett made a move on him in the parking lot, he said.

"I said, 'Whoa!' and pushed her away, and she started to cry," Bradigan told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.

But moments later they were kissing, and a sexual relationship followed that continued off and on for two years.

He told the Plain Dealer he had racy photographs taken by his friends that proved how far their relationship went. His family and his attorney said when the relationship was reported, the school district did not do enough to pursue an investigation.

"They asked her if she had sex with my son, and she said, 'No,'" Lawrence Bradigan, Steven's father, told the newspaper. "That was the extent of the school's investigation."

The Bradigans said that the relationship was common knowledge in the school, and that the boy was teased about it by classmates and even teachers.

But the Strongsville school district said it acted quickly. School officials said they fired Scarlett immediately, contacted Cuyahoga County Children Services, and asked the Bradigans whether they wanted to file charges with the police department.

"It is my understanding that the parents did not want the police to become involved so we honored their wishes," Strongsville schools official Scott Ross told WJW-TV in Cleveland.

Scarlett's attorney told WJW-TV that the boy's parents knew about the affair, which they allegedly discovered when they found the teacher hiding in their son's closet, and that they did nothing to stop it.

Bradigan's parents said that the district's account was not true.

ABC News affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland, Ohio, contributed to this report.