After teen ’sexting’ suicide, parents sue, well, everybody
Jessica Logan was an 18-year-old high school student who “sexted” her boyfriend, sending him a naked photo of herself, from the neck down. After they broke up, he forwarded it to others at their Ohio high school, and soon, everyone was looking at and talking about her indiscreet moment. When she complained to her high school guidance counselors, they referred her to a police officer associated with the school. He said there was nothing he could do because she was an adult — he couldn’t even force her fellow students to delete nude photos of her from their phones — and instead advised her to tell her story to reporters, to help other teens understand the dangers of sexting.
After Logan anonymously shared her story, the harassment at school got even worse.
The harassment increased. Her fellow students called her a “slut,” “whore” and “skank.”
“She also received phone calls, text messages, and internet messages while at school from defendants Ramsey, A.R., Stachler, Richardson and students unknown to her, using similar slurs and epithets. Some peers went beyond the verbal torment and threw things at Jessica while she was at school and at school-sponsored events. This severe and pervasive harassment continued when Jessica would leave the school building, allowing her no reprieve from her tormentors. This continued through the end of the school year,” according to the complaint.
The vague outline of this story may be familiar to you. In the summer of 2008, two months after appearing “anonymously” on broadcast news programs, Logan committed suicide, hanging herself in her closet.
Her parents made the media rounds after her death to again warn other teens about the dangers of sexting, appearing on the Today show in an interview with Matt Lauer. Now Logan’s parents are taking their battle to the courts. They’ve filed a lawsuit against the school, the officer, their city, Logan’s ex-boyfriend, and the classmates who harassed her.
When Logan’s mother, Cynthia Logan, spoke to Lauer in March, she said she was having problems putting together a court case:
Logan said she’s been through six lawyers in what has so far been an unsuccessful battle to hold school officials responsible for the bullying of her daughter.
Apparently, she’s remedied that. They previously sued in county court. And last week, they filed a federal case, demanding unspecified damages and a jury trial, because Logan’s constitutional rights were allegedly violated by the school’s failure to follow policies on harassment.
The suit also alleges discrimination, privacy invasion and emotional distress.
There’s a reason that the Logans had a hard time finding a lawyer to take this case. The school certainly didn’t handle this well and Logan’s death is a tragedy. But it’s going to be hard to convince a jury to blame the school, fellow students, and the police officer for the death (as prosecutors discovered in the criminal case of Lori Drew over the Meghan Meier MySpace suicide). The Logan case is a civil case, not a criminal case, but I imagine the plaintiffs will face similar problems.
Once again, I will play my broken record: do not take nude photos of yourself. Unless you’re in the Playboy/Playgirl business, and you’re being paid for them.