Emilie Olsen: Parents of Fairfield middle schooler file federal lawsuit citing bullying in suicide

Suit: Officials, staff didn't act to stop it

FAIRFIELD, Ohio — Emilie Olsen's parents filed a federal lawsuit Monday that accuses nine Fairfield City Schools officials, the school district and the school board of knowing the 13-year-old was bullied at school and not acting to stop it before she committed suicide last year.

Defendants in the suit along include superintendent Paul Otten, middle school principal Lincoln Butts, intermediate school principal Jeff Madden and other staff, along with 18 unnamed students.


Emilie Olsen's yearbook photo

According to the suit, Emilie, an Asian-American, was "continually bullied, harassed, assaulted, battered and discriminated against in school, and further bullied and harassed online because of her race, national origin and gender, as well as her association with Caucasian students and her perceived sexual orientation and practices.

READ the lawsuit here or below.

"Emilie's parents tried to stop the bullying and pleaded with certain defendants for help. Defendants failed to stop the bullying and it continued. Consequently, Emilie suffered severe anguish, distress and depression and ultimately committed suicide."

The suit says also says Emilie wasn't the only victim.

"Other students suffered unrelenting bullying and discrimination and two of those students attempted suicide before Emilie's death. Certain of the defendants likewise failed to intervene on behalf of these students," according to the suit.

The bullying started when Emilie was a fifth grader at Fairfield Intermediate School and continued through the seventh grade at Fairfield Middle School, the suit said.

Emilie’s death rocked the Fairfield community last December and led to demands from students and parents who say that bullying is a problem within the school district.

A WCPO I-Team special report revealed evidence of bullying in Fairfield schools — allegations the school district vehemently denied, even after the I-Team’s report.

READ the I-Team’s Special Report on bullying and Emilie Olsen’s death here.

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

As recently as October, the Fairfield school board was listening to parents’ concerns about bullying but would not comment on the district’s bullying policy, which remains unchanged since Emilie’s death.

The suit seeks damages and reforms to the Fairfield City Schools practices and policies for responding to bullying, harassment, assault, battery and discrimination, it says.

A statement from Fairfield City Schools said:

"The Fairfield City School District is aware that a lawsuit has been filed against the District and a number of additional defendants by the Olsens. The District will be defending the litigation and will be providing appropriate  responses in the course of the litigation. The District has no further comment at this time regarding this pending matter."




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

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