“It looked like somebody ripped my daughter’s neck off and stitched it back together,” says the mother of the girl from Waco, Tex., who was on a school trip when she was injured.
This headline looked so compellingly awful, I read the whole article.
And monitored my own reactions. Which shifted back and forth as I read. Here’s how the story begins:
A private school in Texas has been sued for more than $3 million by the family of a black girl who accused three white classmates of wrapping a rope around her neck and dragging her to the ground during a school trip — leaving her with severe rope burns and a mark that looked like a necklace.
Lawyers for the girl, who is identified in court papers filed on Monday only as K.P., said evidence suggested that race played a role in the episode, which occurred during an overnight outing in April by students from the Live Oak Classical School in Waco. The girl was 12 at the time.
But while lawyers for the girl and the school agree that something happened to the student, they disagree about virtually everything else — whether what occurred had been a deliberate act, the severity of her injuries, who was to blame and if race was a motivation.
Now this, from the lawyer for the school:
But David N. Deaconson, a lawyer for the school, said the plaintiffs’ lawyers were exploiting the hot-button issues of race and bullying. He said what had happened to the girl was purely an accident.
“Anyone can allege anything they want in a lawsuit no matter how inaccurate they may be,” he said. “That’s the case here.”
What finally put me in the “yes, this rotten thing happened” camp was comparing the large color photographs at the top of the article with this explanation from the school’s lawyer:
Mr. Deaconson, the school’s lawyer, said he had investigated what happened and gave this account: As many as a dozen children were pulling on the rope to give the swing height, and when they let go, the rope whipped past the girl, hit her in the neck and left her with a rope burn.
I agree with what the girl’s lawyer said a few paragraphs later:
Mr. McCathern, however, called Mr. Deaconson’s description of what happened “cockamamie.”
Indeed. And the odorously condescending comment from the man who owned the property, i.e., a named defendant, on which the incident was alleged to have occurred didn’t help the school’s defense in my mind, either:
Lawrence L. Germer, the owner of the property where the students went on the trip and a defendant in the suit, said, “From any perspective, it’s sad because the little girl got hurt.” But he added that her injuries were the result of “terrible, bad luck” and that the lawsuit misrepresented what had happened.
I’m concerned that this case will go before a Waco, Texas jury. I wouldn’t take any case, especially one that might involve racist bullying, before a Waco jury. I won’t even go to Texas, for any reason whatsoever.
See what you think.