Supporters rally for teen at center of Cedar Creek lawsuit
MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Public outrage continues over allegations made in a controversial lawsuit targeting Cedar Creek School in Lincoln Parish. Several people gathered at the Third Judicial District Courthouse on Sept. 21, 2021, to support a former student that the lawsuit claims was a victim of sexual battery and bullying at the hands of eight classmates.
Tuesday’s “Justice for Paul” rally was preceded by the release of a 20-page lawsuit filed on behalf of the teen’s family. The lawsuit alleges a student, called by the pseudonym “Paul,” was the victim of ongoing abuse that happened during parts of 2020 and 2021. The allegations include sexual battery, which the school adamantly disputed online.
Rally organizers told KNOE that they don’t know anyone involved personally. However, they said the details alleged in the lawsuit made it hard for them to stand by and do nothing.
“I read through that and took quite a few brief pauses to collect myself because it was traumatizing, what this child went through,” said Megan Coleman, one of the event’s organizers. “Nobody should have to go through that. It makes you self-reflect on the things that have happened to you when you’re a survivor. I just want that child, and any other child, to know that we hear them and we support them.”
“It’s hard for someone to speak up anyway,” said organizer Courtney Brown. “It’s especially even harder if you’re a male and you speak up about it. And then to turn around and call him a liar. That’s not right at all. We just want him and everyone else to know that he’s been heard.”
A copy of the lawsuit began circulating online several days ago. One central claim of the lawsuit is that a group of students forced an Eiffel Tower statue into the teen’s rectum on multiple occasions. This is said to have happened in front of classmates while the teacher was not in class. The lawsuit says other objects were used on other occasions, including a water bottle and broomstick. It claims the teen was penetrated “in excess of twenty-five” times.
In a response posted online, Cedar Creek acknowledged the bullying, but denied the sexual battery claim and questioned the veracity of other allegations in the lawsuit. The school claims the story told in the lawsuit changed from a previous complaint. They also say another central claim of the lawsuit, a planned day of harassment known as “Hell Day,” was planned, in part, by the student said to be the victim. The school said other students were to have their own “Hell Day” in order “to replicate in some manner the training that Navy Seals go through.”
The school said a retired Ruston police officer investigated the matter and five students were expelled as a result of the bullying. They also called on the family’s attorney to produce any evidence of the sexual abuse.
The lawsuit seeks general damages “in such amounts as are reasonable in the premises against Defendants.” It also asks a jury to award exemplary and punitive damages due to the sexual nature of the accusations.
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