Emilie Olsen lawsuit, suicide examined on GMA

Posted at 3:46 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 15:48:06-05

FAIRFIELD, Ohio — The story of Emilie Olsen and the lawsuit surrounding her suicide were featured Wednesday on Good Morning America.

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 did not act to stop it before she committed suicide last year.

Eighteen unnamed students are included as defendants in the suit along with superintendent Paul Otten, teacher Candy Bader, counselor Erica Green and other school officials and staff.

Emilie Olsen's yearbook photo

ABC News' legal analyst Dan Abrams said Wednesday morning the legal battle will focus on what the school district did or did not do to prevent bullying.

"Maybe most importantly, did the school district know about it and did they, as the plaintiffs allege here, literally put her back into classes with the bullies that they’d reported about. That’s a critical question," Abrams said.

"There’s a clear law in Ohio, an anti-bullying law, which requires school districts to take action," he added. "Now the superintendent actually wrote a letter to the school community saying that he didn’t think bullying had to do with this so there's going to be clear factual disputes."

According to the suit, Olsen, 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 hereor below.

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

The suit claims Olsen wasn't the only victim.

"Other students suffered unrelenting bullying and discrimination and two of those students attempted suicide before (Olsen's) death," the lawsuit states.

The bullying started when Olsen was a fifth grader at Fairfield Intermediate School and continued through the seventh grade at Fairfield Middle School, her family claims

Olsen'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 Olsen'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.

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 -  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