The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Local News

October 15, 2013

Jury awards $50,000 in Pendleton Heights bullying case



"I think a lot of the problem was the school was unwilling to admit to what they hadn't done, and they went after her character," said the victim's father. "We're happy she's been vindicated."

The decision comes on the heels of a state law passed this year that requires school districts to adopt plans with specific timetables for reporting bullying, reporting methods, and a detailed plan of action once bullying is reported, according to an Associated Press report.

Attorney Steven Smith, who represented the victim in the case, asked the jury to accept an amount of $80,000. Eric Brodt, who represented South Madison, countered with an amount of $40,000. After about three hours of deliberation, the jury agreed on $50,000.

"We would've liked more, but we're pleased with the win and it's fair," Smith said. "What I hope is that it will help not only the family but help the other students at Pendleton Heights."

Smith said he thought the school mishandled the incident from the very beginning, when they sent the victim back to class after she reported the incident.

In a post-trial meeting with the attorneys, jurors said they found testimonies from several school officials to be inconsistent, which helped guide them to their decision. One juror said he felt the school corporation only mishandled the very beginning of the incident, and not during the following months.

One key witness on Oct. 8 was Dr. Pamela Porter, an expert in post-traumatic stress disorder who counseled the victim and her family after the incident. Porter said the woman now suffers symptoms of PTSD. The victim reported having symptoms of a panic attack the day of the incident, Porter said, and still has difficulty interacting with people without feeling anxious.

Like Jack Molitor on Facebook and follow him @aggiejack4 on Twitter, or call 640-4883.

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