The parents of a Joshua teen who killed himself in 2010 — after teachers and officials of Loflin Middle School ignored months of bullying, the parents say — are back in court after a federal appeals court reinstated their lawsuit.
Jon Carmichael, 13, reached the breaking point, the lawsuit says, when members of the football team stripped off his clothes, tied him up, tossed him into a garbage can and taunted him with calls of “fag,” “homo” and similar slurs. The locker room attack was recorded on video and uploaded to YouTube, according to the lawsuit.
Several days later, Carmichael hanged himself in a barn behind his home in Joshua. His parents later sued the school district and school officials, alleging that teachers knew about the bullying but did nothing to protect him from abuse that escalated into sexual assault.
U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater threw out the lawsuit in 2012, ruling that there was no proof that the youth was the victim of “pervasive” sexual harassment, an essential element to sue under federal law.
Concerned that Fitzwater’s ruling left children in school with less protection from sexual harassment than adults in the workplace, the Justice Department supported Jon’s parents when they turned to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.