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.
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.
"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.
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."