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Emilie Olsen case: Allstate goes to court so it won't have to pay insurance claim

Bullying led to teen's suicide, parents say
Posted at 9:33 PM, Dec 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-15 21:44:07-05

HAMILTON, Ohio - An insurance company doesn't want to pay damages in Emilie Olsen's death so it's suing the family of one of Olsen's classmates accused of bullying the 13-year-old into suicide.

Allstate is asking a Butler County judge for a declaratory judgment that would take it off the hook if Olsen's family wins its civil suit against more than three dozen students, teachers and staff, including the former Fairfield City Schools superintendent and middle school principal.

Eight unnamed minor classmates at Fairfield Middle School are being sued by the Olsens, and one of their families has $100,000 family liability protection with Allstate, the company said in a court filing. Because the student is cited in five counts of the lawsuit, Allstate is presumably worried that it could be on the hook for $500,000.

In its court filing, Allstate argues that its liability policy specifically "excludes coverage for bodily injury or property damage intended by, or which may be reasonably expected to result from the intentional or criminal acts or omissions of any insured person."

In Allstate's filing, the insurer says the Olsens' lawsuit accuses the unnamed girl of engaging in a pattern of bullying, harassing, assaulting, battering and discriminating against Emilie. It says the girl contributed to Emilie's death and intended to cause Emilie and her family emotional distress and mental anguish.

Allstate is asking the court to rule that the company is not required to defend the girl or indemnify her or anyone else from any claims arising from Emilie's death.

A  WCPO I-Team investigation discovered evidence that Fairfield Middle School students repeatedly told Emilie to kill herself and posted vulgar sexual messages about her on social media, created an "Emilie Olsen Is Gay" Instagram account, marked restroom walls with "Emilie is a whore" and battered her in school.

Emilie's parents also sued school officials, teachers, guidance counselors and staff members, saying they didn't protect Emilie or act to stop the bullying. 

READ the lawsuit.

Four days after Emilie shot herself in December 2014, Fairfield City School administrators were confident enough to release this statement to parents and students:

“There have been many rumors and misinformation about bullying with regard to this tragedy. The district has never had an indication – by self-report, or reports from others – that bullying has ever occurred.”

But WCPO's I-Team found emails, school reports, a social media account and more that showed the exact opposite was true.

READ the I-Team’s special report

Since then, more parents have come forward claiming their child was bullied while under the school district’s supervision.

No criminal charges were filed in Emilie's  death, but the Office of Professional Conduct of the Ohio Department of Education confirmed to WCPO this week that it is investigating and that it could revoke teacher's licenses if they find anyone was negligent in Emilie's case.

"All the Ohio Department of Education has to establish is that a teacher acted unreasonably under the circumstances or that the teacher failed to use ordinary care,"  said civil rights attorney Konrad Kircher, a former member of the Kings school board.

Since the Olsens sued, former Fairfield superintendent Paul Otten left his position to become the superintendent of Beavercreek City School District.

Fairfield Middle School Principal Lincoln Butts resigned for "personal reasons" amid accusations he intimidated Olsen's parents after her death. 

Olsen's parents claimed Butts showed up at their home unannounced and accompanied by two police officers five days after their daughter's suicide. The parents claim Butts and police demanded that Olsen's father let them into his home but refused to say why they were there. One officer flashed his badge, the parents claimed.

Bullying and Suicide Resources

The Family Violence Prevention Project

Greater Cincinnati Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network

Cincinnati Children's Anti-Bullying Curriculum

The Girls Guide to End Bullying

StopBullying.gov -  Ohio anti-bullying laws & policies

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Ohio Suicide Hotlines

Cincinnati Children's 'Surviving the Teens' Suicide Prevention program