By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For the first time, a former Cretin-Derham Hall student is telling his story about being sexually abused by a teacher.

Cameron Clarkson said he was 16 when he was abused by Gail Gagne.

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She was 25 at the time, working as a supervisor in the school’s weight room.

She was fired by the school and later convicted of fifth-degree sexual conduct for having sex with a student.

“It’s time to tell the truth on a very basic level,” Clarkson said.

Because he was 16 and a juvenile when he was abused by Gagne, Clarkson’s name could not be released.

And it could have stayed that way.

But Clarkson, now a 22-year-old college senior, is going public because he said Cretin-Derham Hall is trying to keep what happened to him a secret.

“That’s a fact that has been swept under the rug by Cretin-Derham Hall for the past 5 years,” said Clarkson. “They have a saying that says, ‘All are welcome.’ But it’s not only a statement about what they value, but also a statement about who they don’t value.”

Clarkson said the abuse lasted for two months during his sophomore year.

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Gagne was fired and ordered by a judge to register as a sex offender.

Clarkson said the school treated him differently afterward, and he was passed over for leadership positions.

Before the first day of football practice his senior year, he said someone smeared peanut butter all over his car and wrote the teacher’s name on his lawn.

“I’m severely allergic to peanut butter,” Clarkson said. “My mom was crying and had to clean it up. That image stays with me. The worst part is, when I brought it to the police and the school, no one did anything.”

Clarkson also believes his concerns weren’t taken as seriously because of the color of his skin.

Since a settlement could not be reached, he’ll take the school to court on Dec. 1.

“They would rather take their chances on a jury seeing me as a criminal rather than a victim,” he said. “And it’s very sad that they are not willing to take that risk.”

Clarkson said he wants the school to take responsibility for not providing a safe environment and to pay his mother back the tuition she paid for his education.

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The school did not return calls Monday night, but they did send a letter to parents letting them know that a settlement could not be reached and the case is going to trial.

John Lauritsen