A teenager has filed a $2 million federal civil rights lawsuit alleging nearly two years of bullying—including death threats—she says her former high school did nothing to stop.
Isabella “Belle” Hankey is suing the towns of Concord and Carlisle, Mass., as well as the Concord-Carlisle School District and three administrators—based on the state’s new anti-bullying law, WHDH-TV reported —and alleging evidence was destroyed, according to The Boston Globe.
Hankey says the bullying began in October 2011 when she found her brand-new Ford Escape—a 17th birthday present the day before from her parents—marked with three deep key scratches. In February 2012, she found her driver's side door smeared with feces.
“I was in shock, it was disgusting,” she told the Globe. “Who is physically capable of doing something so disgusting?”
More from the Globe:
Hankey began to feel anxious and suspicious walking through her high school halls. She had no enemies, no feuds. She was pretty, happy, played softball and basketball. She had athletic rivals, but no one, she thought, who would ever do this.
“I hated walking in the halls, thinking that you could be walking by the person that hates you,” she said. “It’s terrifying. You think that it could be your friends, a stranger, anyone. The person sitting next to you in math class.”
The vandalism continued through May, with more insults scratched into her car.
Then, in June 2012, Hankey found the first death threat: “Kill Belle” carved into the bathroom wall in the high school locker room. Days later, came another threat: “Belle’s Dead at 9:15.”
In October, Hankey was hospitalized with what her suit alleges was a stress-induced blood clot in her leg. She suffered a pulmonary embolism – a sometimes fatal medical emergency – and was hospitalized again.
“I thought she was going to die,” said Hankey’s mother, as she began crying. “Just total fear.”
Hankey said when she brought complaints to school administrators, she detected a lack on interest. “They would shoo me from their office and they would make it seem like they had more important things to be doing instead of paying attention to a threat someone wrote about my life,” Hankey told WHDH.
Hankey said the threats ended when police and school officials agreed to install cameras around the school during her senior year, WHDH reported. But she still enrolled in an alternative program through her high school rather than deal with daily fear and graduated early in January 2013.
“I went through this by myself and I don’t want any other people to go through this by themselves and luckily I had family and my friends to support me," Hankey told WHDH. "Not everybody has that, so not having the school and not having the support that I had, there’s no way that we would get other things resolved."
"The school district cannot comment on a complaint which it has not even seen, and we would not discuss publicly the private concerns of any student," said John Flaherty, deputy superintendent of finance and operations for the school district. "We can say we take the issue of harassment very seriously, and that the district is committed to providing a safe learning environment for all of our students. Beyond that we can offer no comment at this time."
Other school officials could not be reached for comment, the Globe said.
Here's a report from the Globe:
And another from WHDH: