The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Cops, courts and fires

October 15, 2013

Jury awards $50,000 in Pendleton Heights bullying case

ANDERSON, Ind. —

A six-person jury awarded the victim of extreme bullying at Pendleton Heights High School $50,000 in damages Tuesday in Madison Circuit Court 3.

The jury decided in favor of the woman and her family after they brought a tort claim against South Madison Community School Corp. The award followed a three-day civil trial. The former Pendleton Heights High School student claimed that the school and the school district mishandled, or neglected to handle, the fallout from a 2008 incident.

According to court documents, when the woman, who was 15 years old at the time, went to school on March 11, 2008, she found there were pictures posted around the school that had been edited with computer software showing her in a sexually suggestive manner. The fliers also included her real phone number.

The case files indicate school officials determined who the culprit was and immediately suspended him from school, though the victim's family said he was only transferred to another school. He was also charged as a minor for distribution of child pornography and child exploitation and was later placed on juvenile detention.

According to case documents, South Madison denied negligence and contended it acted with reasonable care in the matter.

The woman and her family claimed that South Madison Community School Corp. was negligent in its handling of the matter, that proper counseling wasn't offered to the victim after the incident and that the family struggled to recover.

"I'm glad they found them liable for what happened," the victim said after the Tuesday hearing.

Her mother added that she's glad they fought for "everyone else at Pendleton." The family said they believe bullying is still a problem at the school, and the school district just recently implemented training for teachers on how to handle bullying.

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