FAIRFIELD TWP., Ohio -- Fairfield Middle School Principal Lincoln Butts resigned this week for "personal reasons" amid a lawsuit claiming he intimidated the parents of al student who killed herself.
Cindy and Marc Olsen claimed Butts showed up at their home, unannounced and accompanied by two police officers after their daughter Emilie Olsen's death. Emilie was a 13-year-old student at the middle school when she shot and killed herself in 2014. The Olsens' lawsuit claims Emilie died as a result of bullying by other students, and Butts and other school officials did nothing to stop it.
The lawsuit claims Butts and police demanded that Marc Olsen let them into his home but refused to say why they were there. One officer flashed his badge, Marc and Cindy Olsen said.
Emilie had taken her own life just five days earlier, putting a gun to her head and pulling the trigger on Dec. 11, 2014.
But instead of being at their home to offer sympathy or support, Butts and the officers tried to "intimidate Marc Olsen into 'shutting up' and ceasing all interviews with the local media," the Olsens claim.
"They told Marc Olsen he was 'stirring the pot' and 'entertaining rumors' and in doing so 'causing an issue for the school and the community,'" the Olsens said in a filing in federal court in April.
According to the filing, Marc Olsen told Butts and the officers to leave his home. It also claims one of the officers told him to sit down because they weren't finished. Butts and the officers refused to leave not once, but twice, the parents allege.
School officials did not say Wednesday whether Butts' resignation was related to the lawsuit. The school board's agenda for Thursday lists Butts as resigning for "personal reasons" and effective June 30.
The lawsuit claims Emilie's death resulted from bullying while she attended Fairfield Intermediate School and Middle School. Other defendants include Superintendent Paul Otten and seven other district and school staff members, Fairfield City Schools, the school board and 18 unnamed students.
Otten is also leaving Fairfield in August to become superintendent at Beavercreek Schools near Dayton, Ohio. Otten made the announcement in April, five months after the Olsens sued. He said a consultant firm hired by Beavercreek officials first approached him for the superintendent’s job. He called it "a great opportunity."
"Another One Bites The Dust"
The Olsens' lawsuit criticized Butts for playing the Queen song at a meeting of Fairfield Middle School officials and employees over which he presided nearly a year after Emilie's death.
The meeting was called to discuss the upcoming memorial service for Emilie, the lawsuit said.
Butts played the song "in a callous and blatant exhibition of disrespect for Emilie Olsen and her friends and family," the suit said.
In an email exchange with a member of "Shame on Fairfield Schools," Butts acknowledged playing the song during end-of-the day announcements but said it didn't happen at the staff meeting and didn't have anything to do with Emilie.
"Sorry, but that is incorrect," Butts wrote. "I (we) said nothing about Emilie or her vigil. I did play the song to remind my staff of the unscheduled staff meeting. A staff member asked for the song and I played it. I play songs Friday mornings and sometimes after school to celebrate the great things we have here at FMS. Thanks."
Marc Olsen has been steadfast that bullying drove his daughter to suicide, something Otten and Fairfield City School officials have long denied. However, Emilie's history with bullying has been well-documented through WCPO I-Team investigations.
The Olsens have provided emails with school officials and documents in her school file that show that officials knew about their claims of bullying. In his emails to the school, Marc Olsen specifically warned administrators about a “fake Instagram account” mocking his daughter.
Titled, “EMILIE_OLSEN_IS_GAY,” the sexually explicit account included statements like: “I’m Emilie I’m Gay and I love to F*** random People in the Woods And I Love To chew Tobacco And If U wanna F*** just meet somewhere in the woods (sic).” The lawsuit claims the account was created by a Fairfield sixth-grader.
Yet, when asked by the I-Team, Otten said he had never seen this example of online bullying against Emilie, although school district’s bylaws require that all bullying incidents must be “reported immediately to the superintendent (so) appropriate discipline is administered.” The policy also states “the superintendent must provide the board president with a semiannual written report of all verified incidents of hazing and/or bullying.”
The lawsuit also claims Emilie was physically battered at least a dozen times by other students. In one case. it claims she was pushed into a locker by a male student. The Incident was reported to Butts, but he took no action on it, according to the suit.
In another case, a student followed Emilie into the girls restroom, handed Emilie a razor and told her to “end her life.”
The suit says students repeatedly told Emilie to kill herself, called her "ho," "whore" and other names, wrote derogatory messages about her on the restroom walls and made racist remarks because she was Asian.
Two months before she committed suicide, Emilie and some friends got into a shouting match in the cafeteria with a student who told Emilie to kill herself, according to the suit. Assistant Principal Mark Rice sent the students involved to Butts. The students filled out incident reports but Butts took no other action, the suit says.
In addition, nine other students claim in the lawsuit that they were bullied at Fairfield Middle School or Fairfield Intermediate School. One girl said she was in the seventh grade when she found a note in her locker that read, "(Name), you're a dumb ***** your life sucks it will be for the rest of the year if you remain here die in a hole because no one likes you you're a ***** *** whore leave the school."
According to the Olsen's lawsuit, the girl gave the note to Butts, who did nothing. Her mother also met with Fairfield Middle School administrators about the bullying, but no one did anything, according to the lawsuit. She also was the subject of social media harassment, the lawsuit states.
Data from the Ohio Department of Education shows that bullying was widespread at Fairfield City Schools during years that Emilie went to school there.
In two filings last month, attorneys for Fairfield City Schools and all school defendants denied every allegation in the Olsens' lawsuit and asked the judge to make a ruling on 10 counts without allowing the Olsens to introduce any evidence.
Fairfield City Schools has, in the past, declined to comment on the Olsen case. The district's spokeswoman referred WCPO to the school's attorney, who has not returned phone calls for comment.
OUR INVESTIGATION: How bullying played a part in Emilie's death