A group of teenage girls are suing the Oregon school district where they claim they were repeatedly harassed and extorted by male students. The federal lawsuit claims the boys extorted the plaintiffs into taking nude photographs of themselves and then shared the illicit pictures with other students. However, the civil litigation targets the school district and the principle of the girls’ school, with the plaintiffs asserting that officials failed to prevent the harassment despite receiving multiple complaints.
One of the girls is a plaintiff in an existing lawsuit filed in an Oregon state court, accusing her then boyfriend of extorting her into giving him a naked photograph of herself. The suit asserts that the boy then shared that picture with his friends, who began to harass and bully the plaintiff. She claims one of the boys sexually harassed her.
The recent federal lawsuit elaborates on the first girl’s additional claims, alleging that school officials failed to discipline such behavior and thus tacitly encouraged “peer-on-peer sexual harassment.” The girls and several other students reportedly took their complaints to the school’s principle, who they say routinely ignored them. At one point, a police officer visited the principal to tell him about the misbehavior, which reportedly occurred between 2010 and 2012.
The plaintiffs accuse the principal of failing to take their complaints seriously and failing to notify the Oregon Department of Human Services or students’ parents, despite hearing multiple reports that boys were sharing nude photographs of underage girls. The lawsuit claims that some of the boys even posted the pictures to a public website, threatening to continue unless the plaintiffs sent additional photos.
The lawsuit asserts that two of the plaintiffs attempted suicide, with all three being forced to move away after failing to find alternative education. The plaintiffs are seeking $5 million in damages.
Oregon’s court system gives parties like the individuals detailed in this case a chance to seek justice when other avenues fail. Likewise, the appeals process grants Oregon citizens the right to contest a decision and have it reconsidered by another court.
Source: Oregon Live, “Alleged ‘sextortion’ and sexual harassment at Clatskanie school spur three girls to file federal lawsuit” Helen Jung, Oct. 16, 2013