Federal suit filed against Clatskanie School District in 'sextortion' case

Federal suit filed against Clatskanie School District in 'sextortion' case

Federal suit filed against Clatskanie School District in 'sextortion' case

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by Evan Sernoffsky, kgw.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on October 16, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 16 at 10:01 PM

PORTLAND – The Clatskanie School District and its principal are accused of creating a culture of sextortion, bullying and sexual discrimination at Clatskanie Middle/High School, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in Portland.

That culture allowed for male students to prey upon unsuspecting younger females as they entered the school, causing two students to attempt suicide, the lawsuit says.

In one example cited by the suit, the male students made up a game to collect and trade nude and sexually-explicit images of minor girls.

Tuesday’s court filings come after a lawsuit filed in May in Columbia County where Josi Harrison, 15, said she was blackmailed into sending naked pictures of herself to a former boyfriend and suffered years of torment from him and others.

One boy initially faced attempted rape charges but later admitted to lesser charges of harassment and public indecency.

In September, Harrison told her story on NBC’s Today.

Background: Clatskanie teen describes 'sextortion' trauma

In the interview, she detailed her experience and said the trouble started when she was 12 years old and her 13-year-old boyfriend told her she was a terrible girlfriend if she didn’t send him a nude picture.

Harrison said the boy’s friends also started harassing her and said one of them sexually assaulted her in a city park.

The school district and principal Jeff Baughman have not yet been served in the federal case, which seeks compensation and punitive damages from the school.

Clatskanie School Board Chair Michael Moravec said because the district had not been served, he could not formally comment on the case.

Sacramento-based attorney Amber Lunsford represents Harrison and two other co-plaintiffs who are minors, but said she would not comment on the case until the district was served.

The lawsuit says Baughman had a cavalier attitude towards bullying, especially towards bullying by male students toward female students.

Under Baughman, the suit alleges, a culture developed where male athletes ruled the school and could do whatever they wanted without fear of discipline.

The school district reportedly did nothing after numerous complaints were made by the teens and their parents to teachers, administrators, and Baughman about the sextortion and bullying, the lawsuit claims.

The only action taken by the district and Baughman, according to Tuesday’s filings, was to offer to change the girl’s schedule and say “boys will be boys.”

Harrison’s co-plaintiffs also said they were subjected to sextortion, bullying and sexual harassment, according to the lawsuit.

One of the teens was reportedly transferred to the Rainier School District after she attempted suicide. But then, one of the alleged stalkers was transferred to her school without the Clatskanie School District informing them, which led to another suicide attempt, the suit says.

In 2001, Baughman served as the boys’ varsity basketball coach. The team, alleging Baughman was verbally abusive and highly intimidating, staged a protest and refused to get on the bus for an away game.

The district sided with Baughman and kicked all the boys off the team and eventually promoted him to principal, which Tuesday’s suit claims showed the district’s deliberate indifference toward bullying and sexual harassment.

Harrison has since moved to central Oregon.

Her alleged attacker is the only one to face criminal charges in the case. 

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