PALMETTO BAY (CBSMiami) – A prominent South Florida school is being sued by a former student who says bullying escalated to sexual assault after school officials failed to discipline.
A former student says he was terrorized, in front of school staff, at Palmer Trinity School in Palmetto Bay back in 2013.
The lawsuit, brought by a 14-year-old “John Doe,” claims the boy was victimized by three bullies who taunted him with gay slurs and inflicted physical and sexual abuse on the teen.
Staff and teachers, six that are named in the suit, were aware of the bullying, according to the lawsuit, and looked the other way.
“This was not isolated bullying, this was known by the school, it was known by the teachers,”Jeffrey Herman, the alleged victim’s attorney, said Wednesday.
On one occasion, the suit claims, the boy was on a school bus returning from a track meet and was sexually violated with a foreign object while another student taped it on a cell phone.
“The students began to pass the video around the bus. The coach saw it, knew something had happened, knew it was about this boy and said, ‘just don’t put it up on the internet,” said Herman.
The suit caught some Palmer students, like senior Alyssa Pino, off-guard.
“Cause we’re not used to that and uh, I don’t know. It’s crazy to hear that. We don’t have a lot of bullying at Palmer,” Pino said.
The school wouldn’t comment on the pending lawsuit but issued a statement that reads in part:
“First and foremost, the safety and well-being of our students is paramount. Palmer Trinity School has a strict anti-bullying policy and has zero tolerance for any unacceptable behavior by faculty, staff members or students.”
In the case of the alleged victim, zero-tolerance allegedly gave way to zero action.
“If we let this stuff go on, it ramps up, and it leads to much more serious consequences,” Herman said.
It all climaxed, the suit says, when the boy claims the three bullies beat him on an athletic field, on his groin, so severely that he was left with bleeding genitalia and a permanent hip injury—that’s when adults and Miami-Dade Police got involved.
The alleged victim withdrew from Palmer. His accused bullies, according to his attorney, were expelled from school, charged by police and their cases heard in juvenile court.