Jury Finds Local School Negligent In Bullying Case
Jury Decides Against Awarding Damages To Ex-La Jolla Country Day Student Desiree
April 20, 2011
SAN DIEGO -- A jury refused Wednesday to award damages to a former La Jolla
Country Day student who claimed she was bullied by classmates and that the school
retaliated against her when she complained, but did find the school negligent.
Desiree Bagby, now 18, sued in 2009, alleging she suffered emotional distress at the
hands of top LJCD administrators and that the school breached its contract with her to
re-enroll for her junior year.
After a four-week trial, jurors found that school headmaster Christopher Schuck and
high school principal Roderick Jemison were not out of line in their dealings with Bagby,
but found that LJCD was negligent and breached its contract with her.
Both sides claimed victory.
"This was the end of a very long process in which the school continually said that this
was not a case of bullying, and the jury fully agreed," said Chris Lavin, director of
communications and marketing for La Jolla Country Day.
"This was a young woman who, unfortunately, was facing expulsion from the school and
chose to develop a case with her family using things that the jury has rejected, as a way
of criticizing the school," Lavin said.
"We had to stand up in court and defend ourselves against one of our own clients,
never a good day for the school. But we had to do it because we have to discipline our
students," Lavin said. "Ms. Bagby was facing disciplinary problems, from the theft of
beer, from distribution of beer to other students, cheating on exams, and at some point,
the school has to say enough is enough."
Bagby said she was happy that she got her day in court.
"I'm just happy that I got to share my side of the story," she said. "And I just hope that
other kids that this is happening to will have the courage to speak up, as well."
Her attorney, Joane Garcia-Colson said the case was a victory because the jury found
LJCD negligent, even though it did not award any monetary damages.
Bagby had asked for $1 million.
"If this bullying epidemic sweeping the country is going to be stopped, people like
Desiree have to stand up and have to speak out," the attorney said. "And the more
people who do that, maybe schools will make some changes to protect our kids."
Bagby testified that she found slurs and a penis sketched on her car. She also alleged
a student nearly ran her down in a school parking lot; that she was threatened via the
Internet; and that someone put a dead rat in her locker. Lavin said it turned out to be
Attorney John Collins, representing the school, told jurors in his closing argument on
Monday that the lawsuit was a "misuse" of the justice system and was filed to get back
at the school.
"They (school administrators) followed protocol to the letter," Collins said.
He told jurors that the girl's father told his daughter's adviser at La Jolla Country Day
that his goal in filing the lawsuit was to drag the school through the mud.
Collins said most of the witnesses in the trial contradicted Desiree Bagby's testimony
that she was bullied and that the school didn't do enough about it.
Bagby was suspended for five days for stealing beer and drinking during a
school-sponsored trip to Ecuador and yelling an obscenity at a heckler during a school
soccer game, according to court testimony.
A recommendation to expel Bagby was overturned, but she was ultimately asked to
withdraw from the school, which she did.
Bagby claimed she did not get a re-enrollment contract for her junior year, but Collins
said the school principal sent one to her home a day after he was told she did not get
Garcia-Colson told the jury that the school wanted to make an example out of her.
The attorney said Babgy was humiliated when her soccer coach suspended her for
missing a game.
By not notifying the Bagbys that their daughter wasn't getting a contract to re-enroll at
the school, administrators "broke their own rules" and "betrayed" Bagby, her attorney
According to Garcia-Colson, school officials failed to discipline three girls who admitted
defacing Bagby's car.
The girls told school administrators they did so after she wrote on their cars, but that no
one asked Bagby for her side of the story because she was the "bad girl from
Ecuador," according to Garcia-Colson.
Administrators concluded that Bagby, also a member of the cheer team, was a "bad
child" and "they needed to get rid of her," the attorney said.
Bagby, who wants to be a child-advocate attorney, said she plans to resume her
college career at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Police: 6 Pa. H.S. students arrested for bullying
January 31, 2011
Police in a Philadelphia suburb say they have arrested six teenagers and are seeking a
seventh in connection with an assault in which a 13-year-old student was kidnapped
and hung from a fence post, but not seriously hurt.
Upper Darby Township Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood says Monday's arrests
at Upper Darby High School are related to an assault that happened Jan. 11 in an
apartment complex courtyard.
Chitwood says the suspects, ages 13 to 17, kidnapped the victim on his way home from
school, dragged him through the snow, stuffed him in a tree and hung him by his jacket
from a 7-foot-high fence post.
Chitwood says the student did not suffer serious physical injuries. Police have not yet
determined a motive.
Aggression on Job More
Harmful Than Sexual
Study finds bullied workers had
more stress, less commitment and
higher levels of anxiety
Persistent criticism, belittling
comments, bullying and other
forms of workplace aggression may
inflict more harm on employees
than sexual harassment,
according to a Canadian study.
"As sexual harassment becomes
less acceptable in society,
be more attuned to helping victims,
who may therefore find it easier to
In contrast, non-violent forms of
workplace aggression such as
incivility and bullying
are not illegal, leaving victims to
themselves," lead author M. Sandy
Hershcovis, of the University of
Manitoba, said in a prepared
In their work, the researchers
110 studies conducted over 21
They found that both workplace
aggression and sexual harassment
create negative work environments
unhealthy consequences for
workers, but aggression has more
Workers faced with bullying,
interpersonal conflict were more
quit their jobs, have a lower level of
well-being, be less satisfied with
and have less satisfying
their bosses than workers who were
sexually harassed, the researchers
In addition, bullied employees
more job stress, less job
higher levels of anger and anxiety.
"Bullying is often more subtle and
include behaviors that do not
obvious to others," Hershcovis
instance, how does an employee
their boss that they have been
from lunch? Or that they are being
ignored by a co-worker? The
nature of these behaviors makes
difficult to deal with and sanction."
The study was to be presented
in Washington, D.C., at the
Conference on Work, Stress and
co-sponsored by the American
Psychological Association, the U.S.
National Institute of Occupational
and Health, and the Society for
Occupational Health Psychology.
Phoebe Prince's mother
lashes out at daughter's
by Martin Finucane
May 4, 2011
By Peter Schworm, Globe Staff
The mother of Phoebe Prince,
the 15-year-old Irish immigrant
who killed herself after being
bullied by classmates, lashed
out today at one of her
daughter's tormentors and
described her grief as an
"unbelievable pain" that will
"There is a dead weight that now sits permanently on my chest," Anne O'Brien said
through tears at a Northampton courtroom, where a judge sentenced two of the six
teenagers charged in connection with Prince's death to one year of probation.
In an emotional victim impact statement, O'Brien accused Sean Mulveyhill, a former
classmate who pleaded guilty to harassing Prince, of being in a "predatory" relationship
with her daughter. Mulveyhill had briefly dated Prince.
"Had I known the truth, I would have viewed his interest in my daughter as predatory
and she would have been forbidden to see him," she said.
She read one of her daughter's final text messages, which described her growing
desperation over the bullying.
"I think Sean condoning this is one of the final nails in my coffin," Prince wrote. O'Brien's
voice cracked with emotion as she read the text.
Mulveyhill, 18, was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service with at-risk
youth. Charges of statutory rape and violating her civil rights were dismissed.
Kayla Narey, 18, admitted to sufficient facts to a criminal harassment charge. Charges
of violating Prince's civil rights were dismissed.
Both are forbidden to have contact with Prince's family or profit from their involvement
in the case.
Prince hanged herself in January 2010 at her family's South Hadley home. Her death
drew international attention to the dangers of school bullying and spurred
Massachusetts lawmakers to enact sweeping antibullying legislation.
In a statement, prosecutors said the guilty pleas showed that bullies will be punished for
"By admitting that they engaged in criminal harassment toward Phoebe Prince, these
two defendants have publicly accepted responsibility for their actions, and have been
held accountable," said First District Attorney Steven E. Gagne...
Bullying and hazing
Interview With My Bully:
The mean girl I can’t
My bully comes clean, 30
years later: "I was told I was
special, so I acted special
and better than others"
By Sue Sanders
Nov. 14, 2011
A week before the seventh
grade, my family moved for
the 13th time. My dad was in
the oil business, and we left
Indonesia, where I’d had
friends, for a small Southern
town, where I had none. My
only companion dressed
exclusively in navy culottes
and white button-down shirts,
her wardrobe compliments of
her Pentecostal religion. We
were practically the only two
girls without The Hairdo: a
feathered Farrah Fawcett cut
that necessitated a cloud of
Aqua Net hairspray to tame it
in Louisiana’s humidity.
Each morning of seventh
grade I took the bus to
school, and each morning I
was bullied by a girl I’ll call
“Ew — don’t you wash your
hair?” Jane shouted at me
from two rows back as her
sidekick Kim laughed. I did
wash my hair, but apparently
once a week was not
enough. And I wasn’t exactly
the most fashion-conscious
kid. In fact, I was pretty much
fashion unconscious — to
the point where I could have
used some smelling salts
and a personal shopper. I
thought sitting behind the bus
driver would protect me.
Instead, he just turned up the
volume on the Eagles. (Years
before Noriega was tortured
by rock ‘n’ roll music, so was
I.) This went on all through
seventh grade. That year, I
pretended to be sick so often
that I’m surprised my parents
didn’t whisk me to the local
But eighth grade would be
different! I waited for the bus
on the first day of school
wearing a maroon skirt and
polyester beige shirt printed
with cowboy hats and horses.
I looked great! But as soon
as I boarded the bus, Jane
and Kim started to neigh. It
was clear that eighth grade
was going to be just like
seventh — only with bigger
breasts.When I asked Jane
why she’d been like that, she
said she thought it came
down to three reasons. She’d
felt an enormous sense of
entitlement. “My mom put me
up on a pedestal and I was
told I was special, so I acted
special and better than
others.” She’d come from a
family of huge personalities
and, as she put it, “I was an
attention whore — positive or
negative.” And it turned out
she’d been bullied herself in
fifth grade. “My bully was
brutal and the police had to
get involved. That kid took a
lot from me emotionally,
physically and materially. He
actually ended up much later
going to prison for murder.
And I know what you’re
thinking — if I was bullied,
why would I become one?
Because if I was mean first
then others would be afraid of
me, not the other way around.”
FAMU student death prompts probe of hazing
Florida A & M University officials, along with Gov. Rick Scott, are going to review the
hazing culture at the university following the death of a FAMU band member.
By KATIE SANDERS
Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau
Nov. 24, 2011
TALLAHASSEE -- Fallout from the death of a Florida A&M University drum major
intensified this week with the firing of the school’s band director, the suspensions of
four students and Gov. Rick Scott ordering the state’s law enforcement agency to
assist with the investigation.
Robert Champion, 26, of Atlanta, was found unresponsive Saturday night on a bus
after vomiting and complaining he could not breathe. The bus was parked in front of
an Orlando hotel after the Marching 100 performed at the annual Florida Classic
football game against rival Bethune-Cookman.
Champion was hazed before the 911 call, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said
Tuesday, but officials acknowledged the cause of Champion’s death could take three
months to determine.
Still, FAMU President James Ammons fired Julian White, the band’s director of 13
years, because he said he failed to protect students from hazing despite repeated
complaints. His dismissal is effective Dec. 22. Ammons also announced the formation
of an eight-member task force charged with analyzing the band’s hazing culture and
recommending new policies to eradicate it.
“I think we’ve shed a lot of light on this pattern of behavior that has plagued this
campus and campuses across the country for so long,” Ammons said in a news
White could not be reached.
Ammons refused to give details about the suspensions, citing student privacy laws.
He said they were suspended because of their “known association with the hazing
that took place over the weekend.”
On Tuesday, he indefinitely suspended the 375-member marching band and other
performance ensembles supervised by the music department.
In a letter to FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, Gov. Scott said he wanted
Champion’s death “to become fully known” and for anyone directly or indirectly
responsible for his death to be brought to justice.
“The reality,” Scott wrote, “is that the death investigation significantly impacts the
University, the Tallahassee community and the State of Florida as a whole.”
Bernard Kinsey, a major FAMU fundraiser who played in the band in the 1960s and a
former president of the school’s National Alumni Association, watched with pride
Saturday as the Marching 100 performed what would become his favorite
performance in a decade: a high-stepping tribute to military veterans, at one point
forming the shape of an airplane coming home for a landing and unfurling a
mammoth red, white and blue flag across the field.
Kinsey would later admire a solo by the trombone section. Band director White, an
old friend, told him the section was 19 members fewer than normal because he
suspended them out of suspicion of hazing.
“He said, ‘Bernard, we cracked down,’ ” Kinsey said.
Hours later, Champion was dead...
|San Diego Education Report
New girl blamed to teen bullying suicide case
July 27, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO — A new classmate has been implicated in the death of a 15-year-
old girl who committed suicide after saying three boys sexually assaulted her and
circulated photos of the abuse online.
Audrie Pott hanged herself in September, about a week after passing out drunk at a
party at a friend's house in Northern California.
The 15-year-old said boys she had known for years took off her clothes and
sexually assaulted her, including writing and drawing on intimate parts of her body
and taking cellphone photos of their actions, according to authorities.
She tried to confront the boys accused of attacking her online, and posted her
feelings about it on social media.
"I have a reputation for a night I don't even remember and the whole school knows,"
she wrote in one Facebook message to a friend.
"I cried when I found out what they did," she wrote in another.
Audrie Pott's family recently added a 15-year-old girl to their lawsuit filed in April
against the three boys and the adult couple where she said the assault took place
on Sept. 2.
Attorney Robert Allard initially sued the boys and the adult couple in Santa Clara
County Superior Court, alleging battery, defamation, wrongful death and several
other claims. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
The new defendant was added in June with the Pott family alleging the teenage girl
was present in the room when the assault occurred and encouraged the boys "to
expose and/or photograph and/or draw on Audrie's body," according to the
The girl, identified only as Jane C. because she is a minor, then buttoned and
zipped Audrie Pott's shorts, covered her with a blanket and left her alone, according
to the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that Jane C. lied about her involvement to cover up
The boys are also identified only by their first names and an initial because of their
ages. They have also been charged criminally with sexual battery, dissemination of
child pornography and possession of child pornography.
The AP does not routinely identify victims of sexual assault. But in this case, Pott's
family wanted her name and case known, Allard said. The family also provided a
photo to the AP.
Days after the party, Audrie Pott saw a group of students at Saratoga High School
huddled around a cellphone and realized that at least one humiliating photo of her
was circulating, according to police reports.
The family and authorities say the assault occurred at the Saratoga home of
Michael Penuen and Sheila Penuen, who left their teen daughter behind while they
went out of town.
The Penuens' daughter, whom AP has not named, told her parents she was
spending the night at Audrie Pott's home. Instead, several teens gathered at the
Penuens' home and drank alcohol. A woman answering the Penuen's home phone
Saturday declined comment and hung up. It is not clear whether the daughter is
involved in the suit.
Eight days after the party, Audrie Pott called and asked her mother to pick her up at
school. She said she couldn't deal with it anymore but would not say what was
wrong. She later hanged herself in her home.
Gay man says he was attacked after telling man about his
recent same-sex marriage
Alleged incident happened in gay couple's home
Scripps Media, Inc.
SAN DIEGO - A newly married gay couple says a night of celebrating ended with
violence after they told a man about their marriage.
"He was with his wife and they seemed like a nice couple, so we struck up a
conversation," said Zach.
With his wedding band on his finger, Zach talked to 10News about the couple he
and his husband Shawn met on a Saturday afternoon two weeks ago at the bar
Zach said the man, in his 60s, along with his wife, initially congratulated them on
their week-old marriage and invited them to dinner.
After a few drinks, Zach and Shawn offered to cook them dinner at their home
just around the corner.
At the house, Zach said after 20 minutes, Shawn and the man's wife went outside
for a smoke. Zach said he was talking sports when suddenly the tone changed.
"He looked at me and said, 'I hate f******. Next thing you know, he hit me upside
the head," said Zach.
Zach said photos of deep bruises throughout his body reveal what happened
He said he blacked out, but then woke up to a beating of 4 to 5 minutes filled with
gay slurs. Zach said the man broke wine glasses on his head.
Shawn heard the commotion and came running in and saw his husband.
"He was curled up on the floor and being kicked," said Shawn.
Shawn said the man also hurled glasses and slurs at him before the police were
Zach suffered cuts and bruises, but the man was not arrested.
Police said Zach initially said he didn't want to press charges. He said he doesn't
remember saying that, but now wants the case prosecuted.
Police told 10News they will be referring the case to the City Attorney's Office for
possible misdemeanor battery charges. It's unclear whether a hate crime
enhancer might be added.
Dan Gilleon, the couple's attorney, said a civil suit alleging a hate crime will also
be filed. Gilleon said the alleged attacker was interviewed by his investigator.
"He calls them perverts and shows a bias against homosexuals. He also said my
client tried to molest him, but when we asked him what Zach specifically did, he
couldn't remember," said Gilleon.
10News reporter Michael Chen asked Zach, "Did you do or say anything to
"Absolutely not," Zach replied.
"I don't think anybody should be beat in their own homes and called f*****. It's a
hate crime," said Shawn.
Gilleon said he also found out the man had just learned his wife wanted a divorce
and may have been lashing out at a happily married couple.