HOUSTON VOICE • FEBRUARY 4, 2000
Student says school didn't
stop anti-gay harassment
> Continued from Page 5
> Continued from Page 5
New legal ground: officials
1 lenkle's case builds on a 1996 Lambda
victory in a lawsuit brought on behalf of
Jamie Nabozny, where after a jury verdict
finding liability, school officials in Ashland,
Wisconsin agreed to pay almost $1 million
tor ignoring Nabozny's abuse.
Since then, similar cases in California,
Massachusetts, New York and Washington have drawn national attention to the
problem of anti-gay harassment and violence in schools.
Henkle's case differs from the Nabozny
case in its charges of First Amendment violations, and because the plaintiff seeks
punitive damages against individuals, rather than the school district, according to
Lambda staff attorney Doni Gewirtzman.
Under the 11th amendment, Gewirtzman said, it is unlawful to sue a state entity
tor damages in federal court. In Nevada,
unlike in Wisconsin, the public school system is considered a state entity and can't be
held financially responsible for past wrongs.
The school district can, however, be sued
for forward-looking relief, in this case
Henkle's high school diploma.
School officials can also be sued as in
dividuals, and Henkle's case seeks punitive
damages against all eight defendants,
Henkle v. Gregory also raises state law
claims of negligence, negligence of supervision, intentional infliction of emotional
distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and seeks unspecified
Lambda has asked for a jury trial,
Gewirtzman said, and expects to begin the
discovery process within a few months.
In addition to financial compensation,
said Gewirtzman, the best possible outcome for the case would be that it "send a
message to school officials around the
country that when lesbian and gay students are being beaten up, they must take
action. It's unacceptable to just send the
student to another school."
Lambda Legal Defense &
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Los Angeles, CA 90036
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Family of sodomized student sues school board
FAYETTEVILLE (AP)-A 12-year-
old was repeatedly sodomized in
woods near his middle school, according to a lawsuit accusing school officials of failing to adequately protect
The boy's grandmother and mother
sued the Cumberland County Board
of Education, seeking more than
$10,000 in damages.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 12, charges
that the school system failed to
protect the former Westover Middle
School student, now 16, from his
alleged assailants, who attended
Westover High School less than 200
It also charges that school administrators were aware that woods near
the school had been "repeatedly used
for assaults, drug use and other
illegal activity, but still failed to
take proper and adequate safety
Westover Principal Reginald Ennett
said there never has been a problem
with students trespassing onto his
schools grounds in his three years
there. The woods near the school are
not a problem, he said.
In 1997, Westover High student
Chris Eggleston was murdered in
woods near the school.
The student said he was sodomized
every day for two months beginning in
September 1996. He finally told his
mother about the attacks on Oct. 22,
His ordeal began as harassment,
when the high school students would
accuse him in phone calls of being a
homosexual and threaten to kill him.
Within weeks, the boys began coming
to the middle school from the high
school. The student said they forced
him at knife point into the woods,
where they raped him.
"I was embarrassed," he said in an
interview. "1 thought 1 deserved it.
They made me feel bad about myself,
and I thought they were going to kill
me and they were going to get my
One of the two alleged assailants,
who was 15 at the time, was convicted
of rape, sentenced to three months'
probation and ordered to perform community service. The other boy was
never prosecuted, but is now in prison
for another crime.
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