A federal judge has rejected an immunity claim by a Central Texas school administrator accused of facilitating a male teacher’s molestation of a 5-year-old female student in 2020-21.

The judge found that Lorena Primary School Principal April Jewell’s lack of action to protect pre-K children from a teacher’s sexual abuse “shocks the conscience.”

According to a lawsuit filed last year by the victim’s parents, Jewell ignored months of warnings from multiple school employees about inappropriate behavior by the teacher, Nicolas Scot Crenshaw, toward two of his female students.

Crenshaw eventually pleaded guilty to multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault of a young child and other sex crimes against the students and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Jewell kept her job as the school’s principal, shocking many parents who say the ordeal has shattered their trust in the local school system.

In a May 20 report to U.S. District Judge Alan Albright, Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Manske rejected Jewell’s claim to qualified immunity and recommended that her motion to dismiss the parents’ case against her be denied.


Parents of the victim, identified as Jane Doe, are suing April Jewell and Lorena Independent School District for failing to protect their then 5-year-old daughter from months of sexual abuse by pre-K teacher Nicolas Scot Crenshaw during the 2020-21 academic year.

Crenshaw was a long-term substitute teacher at Lorena Primary School, where Jewell was—and still is—the principal.

At the beginning of the school year, Crenshaw shared a class with another teacher.

According to court documents, in January 2021 teachers and other school staff began reporting to Jewell about Crenshaw’s inappropriate behavior with Jane, which included him lying under a blanket with Jane during nap time and frequently placing her on his lap or having her straddle him.

An aide even gave Jewell photos of Crenshaw’s suspicious behavior, but she was reprimanded by Jewell for taking the pictures.

Rather than investigate Crenshaw or monitor his interactions with the girls, Jewell split the pre-K class, leaving Crenshaw unsupervised with Jane and a handful of other students.

Staff then reported to Jewell that Crenshaw was often alone with students inside the classroom with the door locked.

Still, Jewell took no action.

In March of 2021, Jane began complaining to her parents about going to school. She told a teacher it hurt when she went “potty” and pointed to her private area in the front.

During an April 2021 meeting in which Crenshaw’s behavior with students was discussed, Jewell reportedly told several staff members “we can’t be picky” about staff and “who we have is what we have to work with.”

On May 7, 2021, Jane was not in class. That night, Jane’s 4-year-old female classmate, identified as Student A, told her parents that Crenshaw had put his hand down her panties.

The next day, the district notified Jane’s parents that police were investigating Crenshaw.

Crenshaw’s wife, with whom he had a child, filed for divorce later that month.

In June 2021, Jane told her parents how Crenshaw had abused her. She said they were “boyfriend and girlfriend” and described “games” he “played” with her during nap time, which he said were “their secret.”

Her parents reported the abuse to authorities, and during a subsequent forensic interview with law enforcement, Jane detailed her sexual contact with Crenshaw.

Crenshaw admitted to authorities he became sexually aroused by his contact with Jane while at school, and he was arrested.

Jane’s parents then filed a grievance with the school district requesting an explanation of how the abuse was allowed to continue after multiple reports of Crenshaw’s inappropriate behavior.

The Does allege the district refused to conduct an investigation or answer their questions.

They also allege that during a school board meeting in October 2021, Lorena ISD’s attorney demeaned them, claiming they were out to attack the school.

In May 2023, two years after his crimes were exposed, 28-year-old Crenshaw pleaded guilty to five counts of aggravated sexual assault of a young child, one count of continuous sexual abuse of a young child and one count of indecency with a child by contact for his sexual abuse of Jane and her 4-year-old classmate.

Crenshaw was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years in state prison and is incarcerated in Huntsville with a parole eligibility date of June 26, 2061.

Texas Education Agency records show Crenshaw never received a state teaching certificate. He was added to the state’s Do Not Hire Registry on May 22, 2024.


Following Crenshaw’s guilty plea, the Does filed their lawsuit against Principal Jewell and Lorena ISD, using pseudonyms to protect their abused daughter from further trauma.

According to court documents, the prosecutor said during the sentencing hearing that Crenshaw “repeated an unspeakable evil against two of the most vulnerable and innocent persons in our community. He is the definition of a predator hiding among those who chose to look the other way.”

Jane’s parents allege in their lawsuit that Lorena ISD employees did more than “look the other way.”

School District personnel who “chose to look the other way” included, among others, the Lorena Primary School Principal, April Jewell, Lorena Primary School Vice Principal, Denae Gerik, and pre-kindergarten lead teacher, Stephanie Heslep. They knew from their own observations, multiple employees’ credible complaints about Crenshaw’s inappropriate interactions with Jane Doe, and photographic evidence that Crenshaw routinely laid down under a blanket with Jane during nap time, had her straddle him while he was lying down, placed her on his lap, dressed her in his clothing, isolated her in the classroom and behind locked doors, and was otherwise obsessed with the young child. At the same time, school officials knew that Jane complained of vaginal and stomach pain.

The Does allege that despite all the red flags, neither Jewell nor the district ever investigated Crenshaw’s behavior, and they never notified Jane’s parents, law enforcement, or CPS about the reports of Crenshaw abusing Jane.

Instead, Judge Manske noted in his report, Jewell removed a supervisor who had reported Crenshaw’s inappropriate behavior, allowed Jane to be with Crenshaw unsupervised, failed to investigate reports of bad behavior, and reprimanded a staff member who showed her photos of Crenshaw under a blanket with Jane during nap time.

“Plaintiffs allege multiple employees told Jewell about Crenshaw’s behavior and she took no action and refused to acknowledge the conduct,” Manske wrote.

Jane pleads facts showing that Jewell was given direct reports of inappropriate behavior from multiple school officials and failed to even ask the questions necessary to investigate the report.


Despite these reports and photographs, Jewell did nothing. It took a criminal investigation by law enforcement and another student suffering sexual abuse for Jewell to act.


The only action Jewell took was to call Mary Doe crying and apologize for not telling Mary sooner about the reports she received regarding the sexual abuse suffered by Mary’s five-year-old daughter.

“This lack of executive action from Jewell as a principal of an elementary school, whose job it is to ensure the education, safety, and health of her students, shocks the conscience,” Manske concluded.

Judge Manske determined that Jewell is not entitled to qualified immunity, which shields government officials from civil liability for claims under federal law unless their conduct “violates a clearly established constitutional right.”

“The right of a student to be protected from physical sexual abuse by a teacher has been clearly established since 1994. Plaintiff has, therefore, stated a claim that overcomes qualified immunity and Jewell’s motion should be denied,” Manske wrote.

Judge Manske also recommended that Lorena ISD’s partial motion to dismiss should be denied.

The district claimed it is not liable for an employee’s actions.

The Does’ lawsuit alleges Lorena ISD “facilitated Crenshaw’s rape and molestation of Jane” by failing to provide training or education to administrators, staff, students, and parents on protecting students from sexual harassment.

“For the past thirty years, schools have been on notice that policies and training to protect and prevent teacher-on-student sexual abuse are required to protect students’ rights to bodily integrity,” wrote Manske.

Jane pleads facts to support that school officials were untrained in the proper procedure for reporting inappropriate behavior, sexual abuse, or grooming behaviors. …


It does not appear from the pleadings that any school official had been trained by Lorena ISD on how to handle situations of inappropriate behavior or reporting on incidents of sexual abuse.

Judge Albright will consider Manske’s report and recommendations when making a final ruling on the motions.

Lorena Parents Speak Out

Jane and her parents have relocated to North Texas, but many Lorena families remain shocked and outraged by what happened within their local school system—including what they see as problems being brushed under the rug to protect the district’s image.

Three years after Crenshaw’s arrest, some have begun speaking out online and at school board meetings, seeking accountability.

Lorena mom Jessica Montez started an online petition last month demanding Jewell’s resignation, as “a first step towards restoring confidence among parents and students alike.”

As a parent of a child attending Lorena Primary School in Lorena, TX, I am deeply disturbed and outraged by the recent revelations. Our trust has been shattered by the knowledge that our children were exposed to harm under the watch of someone we entrusted with their safety. The principal allowed an environment where children were molested, which is unacceptable and unforgivable.

“The principal’s negligence has caused irreparable damage not only to the victims but also to our community’s faith in its educational system. We cannot allow this lack of responsibility and oversight to continue unaddressed,” the petition states.

So far, the petition has gathered close to 700 signatures.

It’s also drawn the ire of some in the community who disapprove of parents criticizing the school district.

Lorena Police Chief Scott Holt posted a message on Facebook “To our LISD staff” saying that “regardless of the loud and uneducated opinion of the minority, the overwhelming majority appreciate the continued sacrifices you make for our children.”

“Some people will never be satisfied,” Holt added.

Montez told Texas Scorecard she will be satisfied when the district takes parents’ and teachers’ concerns seriously and holds Jewell accountable.

“As a Primary school parent, it’s unnerving sending my child to school knowing the principal in charge is being accused by multiple Lorena ISD staff members, both present and past,” said Montez. “Ultimately, neither the Lorena superintendent nor April have been able to justify why their claims of no wrongdoing are superior to the claims of respected teachers accusing them of turning their backs on those innocent girls.”

Montez said teachers are continuing to leave the district due to a hostile working environment.

“When you have majority of a school district’s staff, and parents, that are too afraid to report to the next chain of command for fear of retaliation, someone’s going to get hurt,” she said.

“Part of a school board’s purpose is to uphold strong lines of trust and community among its parents,” she added. “That won’t happen if our school board and superintendent do not hold our principal accountable for her role in this devastating outcome.”

Parents will have an opportunity to speak at the next school board meeting, scheduled for June 10.

Lorena ISD residents may also contact school board trustees directly.

A Pattern

A similar lawsuit was filed in 2022 by parents of two Prosper ISD elementary school girls who were sexually abused by a bus driver for most of the 2021-22 school year without any district staff noticing.

When the girls finally divulged the abuse and the driver was arrested, district officials, including Superintendent Holly Ferguson, hushed up the scandal for months.

Ferguson and Prosper ISD are claiming governmental immunity and are withholding from the public the results of an independent investigation into the scandal due to the pending litigation. No one in Prosper ISD has yet been held accountable, but Ferguson is under investigation by the TEA.

Research published earlier this year found some Texas schools are failing to report educator misconduct as required by state law.

Still, scores of Texas teachers have been charged with sex crimes involving students and other children.

Lorena ISD did not respond to Texas Scorecard‘s request for comment.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.