Thursday, August 16, 2007

Put Away Childish Things

Teen who married teacher loses lawsuit seeking toys from parents
The Associated Press

BOLIVIA, N.C. - A 16-year-old girl who married her 40-year-old former teacher cannot force her parents to return her Beanie Baby collection, a PlayStation video game console and other belongings, a judge ruled.

Windy Wuchae filed a lawsuit against her parents, Dennis and Betty Hager, for items valued at more than $1,000 that her parents kept after she moved out to marry Brenton Wuchae, her cross-country coach at South Brunswick High School.

Magistrate Deborah Ramphal dismissed the case but said the teenager could appeal.

Brenton Wuchae resigned his teaching and coaching position in June on the same day he married Windy. The couple now works at a Food Lion grocery store in Oak Island, where both the Wuchaes and Hagers live.

Robert Tatum, an attorney for the Hagers, said Windy's property and earnings belonged to her parents because they were obtained before she was emancipated. The Hagers reluctantly signed consent forms allowing the marriage.

"The case was dismissed as a matter of law because all of the items belong to her parents," Tatum said after the hearing Wednesday. Both couples declined comment.

The Hagers have also filed lawsuits against two school systems. One accuses the school board in Guilford County - where Brenton Wuchae worked before moving to Bruswick County - of failing to alert authorities that he had inappropriate relationships with female students at Southern Guilford High School.

The second lawsuit accuses the Bruswick County school system of failing to adequately investigate Wuchae. School officials have said they found no evidence of any romantic relationship and put limits on Wuchae's contact with Windy.

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