South Florida School Sued over Student's Alleged Bullying, Sexual Assault - NBC 6 South Florida

South Florida School Sued over Student's Alleged Bullying, Sexual Assault

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    Family Alleges Bullying at School in Lawsuit

    A lawsuit alleges bullying at Palmer Trinity School in Palmetto Bay and that a 14-year-old boy was sexually assaulted. (Published Wednesday, May 13, 2015)

    A South Florida family is taking legal action against a prestigious private school after they say their son was viciously bullied.

    Palmer Trinity School in Palmetto Bay is under fire after a ninth grade boy reported horrific harassment and sexual assault.

    The nine-page complaint filed at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse lays out in detail horrific bullying at the school and even claims several teachers just stood by and watched it happen.

    "He was being sexually bullied, he was being called names, gay slurs, that started in the school year in September," said the family's attorney Jeff Herman.

    Herman says the 14-year-old student athlete, referred to as John Doe in the complaint, was sexually assaulted by three other boys on the cross-country team during a bus trip in September of 2013.

    "Three boys took a water bottle and tried to shove it up his rear-end, making a joke about it and taking a video of it. The video was then passed around the bus, in front of the teachers, in front of the bus driver and nothing was done about it," Herman said.

    A few weeks later, according to the complaint, the same three boys jumped the victim near the school’s baseball dugout, punching him in the genitals, tackling him to the ground and again recording the incident on cell phone video.

    "He had bleeding from his testicles, there was a hemorrhage and he had a significant hip injury," Herman said. "He had torn ligaments."

    Herman said all three attackers were criminally cited and entered a diversion program. Now the civil suit begins. Herman read a statement from the victim’s mother that calls on the witnesses of the bullying to speak up.

    "This was the place I trusted to protect him. I encourage everyone to report any form of bullying they witness immediately to prevent it from escalating to something much more horrific, like it did in this case."

    In a statement, school officials told NBC 6, "First and foremost, the safety and well-being of our students is paramount. Palmer Trinity School has a strict anti-bullying policy and has zero tolerance for any unacceptable behavior by faculty, staff members or students. We cannot comment specifically on the pending lawsuit at this time. However, Palmer Trinity’s honor code requires students, staff and faculty to commit to acting responsibly, being considerate, and being respectful of the rights of all individuals."

    Herman says the victim is now 16 and attends another school, but is no longer able to participate in physical activities.

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