Saturday 10 December 2016

'Scared' Phoebe begged for help at school in final days

Published 10/04/2010 | 05:00

TORMENTED schoolgirl Phoebe Prince was ordered back to class despite telling school officials that she was "scared and wanted to go home", court documents claim.

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The documents reveal how the bullied Irish student wept in front of a teacher and unsuccessfully pleaded with school officials to go home a week before she took her own life.

School officials at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts reportedly did nothing when Phoebe told a school administrator she was being threatened with violence by a classmate on January 7.

The 15-year-old hanged herself at home a week later, on January 14.

The documents filed in Massachusetts in relation to charges against six South Hadley High School students also provide a harrowing glimpse into the final, tortured days of Phoebe's life.

The teenager, originally from Fanore, Co Clare, told a witness that she feared "she was still going to get beat up" after officials did not intervene.

The documents do not reveal the official to whom she spoke, nor do they provide details of the conversation.

District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel has said the inaction of school officials was troublesome but not criminal.

Prosecutors claim that the student, who emigrated to the US just five months earlier, was heckled, taunted and abused for months.

The bullying allegedly involved two high school cliques, after Phoebe briefly dated a popular high school football player who was also involved with another student.

They cited one incident in which one of the students began harassing Phoebe as she waited for a class to begin, making her burst into tears in front of a teacher.

The evidence contradicts the school's claim that the student never disclosed the abuse.

Menacing

The documents also reveal she feared walking in the school corridors and was followed into the toilets by menacing students who insulted her and threatened her with violence.

They tell how Ms Prince told a friend that school "has been close to intolerable lately" one day before she killed herself.

The documents outline her last day at school, described by prosecutors as "a tortuous" day of bullying. It began when three of her classmates, now charged in connection with the tragedy, began taunting her in the school library.

Ashley Longe (16) allegedly starting yelling "I hate stupid sluts", and other slurs, including calling her "an Irish whore". Similar taunts were written on the library sign-in sheets.

Ms Longe repeated the slurs in the school auditorium and threw a drink can at her as she was walking home from school in tears, according to the documents.

Football star Sean Mulveyhill (17) made similar slurs. He has since been charged with statutory rape.

A witness described Ms Prince's desire to be left alone following months of taunts.

"She definitely didn't want to fight with the girls in school. She just wanted to keep to herself and keep things the way they were. She wanted people to stop picking on her, to stop being bullied.''

The documents said one of the accused was given a one-day suspension after a teacher witnessed her confronting Phoebe "with an attitude" after the schoolgirl was seen talking to the accused's boyfriend Austin Renaud (18), who has also been charged with statutory rape.

Lawyers for three of the female accused entered not guilty pleas at a hearing at the Franklin-Hampshire juvenile court on Thursday. They have been charged with various crimes, including stalking and criminal harassment.

Three other teenagers, including Mr Mulveyhill, Mr Renaud and Kayla Narey (17), also pleaded not guilty to various charges in connection with bullying.

Irish Independent

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