Ann Topham was a high achiever as an Everett high school student.
She was one of only two kids in her class with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, and she seemed to be primed for a lifetime of success.
But the now 31-year-old harbored a deep secret, according to a lawsuit she filed in federal court in Seattle.
The suit says a trusted teacher groomed Topham for a sexual relationship when she was a junior at Cascade High School in 2002.
“He had, like, kissed me on the check when I left the classroom,” Topham told KING 5 in an interview via Skype from her home in California.
The suit says by senior year, after Topham turned 18, she and the teacher started having after-hours sex behind a locked door in his classroom.
“He had this whole thing about us being thwarted lovers with this tragic 20-year age difference and I wanted to believe that,” Topham said.
The lawsuit names longtime Cascade High teacher Craig Verver, who taught Topham English and philosophy and mentored her in the national honors program.
Verver’s attorney did not respond to KING 5’s messages. But in court pleadings, he said Verver denies the accusations and he asked the judge to dismiss the case.
The lawsuit also names the Everett School District and a former school superintendent as defendants.
Ann Topham’s attorney, Kevin Hastings of the law firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, said the district should have caught the alleged sex abuse.
“We have evidence that they had actual knowledge that this relationship was going on and that knowledge was teachers stopping by Craig Verver's room and the door was locked and when it was unlocked Ann was on the couch in his room,” Hastings told KING 5.
The school district said it removed Verver from the classroom after it was served with the lawsuit “…out of an abundance of caution.” Spokesperson Leanna Albrecht said Topham did not file a complaint when she was a student.
“I was convinced I had done something wrong, so I didn’t want to get into trouble,” Topham said of her years of silence.
The district also said that no other students have made similar complaints about Craig Verver during his long tenure as a teacher at Cascade.
Topham said the sexual contact with Verver continued for nine years after she graduated from high school. The pair typically met in his classroom after hours.
Topham said she pursued the lawsuit only after she attended a job fair last fall in California.
She was interested in pursuing a job as a teacher, but said she had a panic attack when found herself surrounded by educators.
“And that’s when I got a lawyer,” she said.