One Waco, Texas, family is not going to let what is described as a “play lynching” conducted by a group of white, male students against their daughter go unanswered after their child’s school dismissed the horrific incident as an accident.
The family is now seeking more than $3 million to “not only compensate the victims in this case, but to deter this type of egregious conduct from others in the future, and to serve as an example to all educational institutions that this type of behavior is unacceptable with regard to both the treatment of children and their parents.”
To the parents of the child injured, it seems clear that this was a racially motivated hate crime. The idea that a group of white, male students could tie a rope around their child’s neck and drag her around in the dirt in what mimics a lynching and have that dismissed as “accidental” is distressing to the parents — and to their little girl.
And they are not the only ones who are baffled that the incident is being dismissed as an accident.
The incident that had such disturbing, racial overtones occurred last month, when a group of students from a private school called Live Oak Classical School were taken on an overnight field trip to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. The students visited the destination and were then taken to Germer Ranch, owned by Lawrence Germer, to spend the night.
Germer is an attorney as well as the father of the grammar school dean.
There were reportedly 22 students on the trip, a group of 14 boys and eight girls. The girl injured was one of two black students present on the trip.
The incident occurred when the little girl was helping other children swing on a rope swing. Engaging in an activity that was innocent and certainly harmless, the little girl stood back in order to watch the child she was pushing on the swing, when suddenly, she felt a rope loop around her neck. The rope then tightened significantly, and she was yanked back, and then a group of fellow students — all white, male students — began to drag her around by the rope looped around her neck.
Fortunately, the little girl was not choked so badly that she suffered from brain damage — or worse. But there was plenty of damage done, and the injuries she sustained were visible and serious.
“It looked like somebody had ripped her neck apart and stitched it back together,” the girl’s mother, Sandy Rougely, said in an interview following the incident with the Dallas Morning News.
The identity of the girl injured, as well as the students who looped a rope around her neck and dragged her, have not been released, but the little girl was interviewed by the Dallas Morning News, and she also states that the incident was anything but an accident. Furthermore, it wasn’t the first time the child had been bullied. Her mother had contacted the Live Oak Classical School several times in order to address concerns she had about her daughter being bullied by the same three boys who allegedly looped the rope around the child’s neck.
The problem only got worse, the little girl says.
The little girl explained that she didn’t see anything when the incident occurred because her back was to the boys as they looped the rope around her neck and began to drag her. But, she explained, had they simply let go of the rope, the rope would have fallen to the ground. Instead, the force of the boys’ pulling knocked her down, and then she was dragged.
“That’s why I think it was on purpose,” she said. “I think someone tried to tie it around my neck.”
It’s the belief that the incident was absolutely an intentional hate crime that has prompted the child’s parents to act.
Live Oak Classical School, though, maintains that it was an accident and released the following statement in rebuttal to the lawsuit the girl’s parents filed against both the school and the ranch where the incident occurred.
“The lawyer claimed that the student’s injuries were racially motivated, intentional attack. Live Oak takes this accusation seriously. The school interviewed all student eyewitnesses and teachers who were present and each independently established that the accusation made by the attorney is absolutely false. The injuries were caused accidentally while the students were playing with the swing and attached pull rope. The attorney was advised of the results of the interviews.”
The lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of the child and her parents, though, dismissed the idea that the injuries sustained to the little girl could have possibly been accidental.
“I don’t know how you can look at her neck, at the pictures, and think this was anything but intentional.”
The school’s attorney, though, maintains that Live Oak Classical School will “stand behind the facts” and that the injuries to the child were an “unfortunate accident.”
“We all know anybody can allege anything in a lawsuit. That doesn’t make it true. We also need to keep in mind we’ve got 12-year-old kids involved, and adults need to react in a way that doesn’t put the 12-year-olds’ safety at risk, which many of them already have.”
Watch the video and tell us — do you think the injuries sustained to the little girl during the incident described as a “play lynching” were accidental?
[Image via Shutterstock]