SAN ANTONIO — A federal appeals court has thrown out a $4.5 million judgment against a San Antonio-area school district where a principal was convicted of molesting a student over several years.

The principal, Michael Alcoser, was convicted in 2011 and sentenced to 18 years in prison. His victim then sued the South San Antonio Independent School District under Title IX of federal education law and a trial jury in 2015 decided the district was liable for Alcoser’s conduct and awarded the money.

The district appealed and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that while the student’s abuse was “heart-wrenching” and Alcoser’s conduct was “despicable,” the $4.5 million award was improper because no one working for the district, except Alcoser, had knowledge of the abuse.