CITIZEN JOURNALISM: Teen’s death tied to ‘sexting’
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That idiom is being cast aside as more and more youths use their cell phones and the Internet to cast aspersions. The consequences can be a life-and-death matter.
Jessica Logan, a pretty blond who graduated from Cincinnati’s Sycamore High School in 2008, took her own life after a former boyfriend, Ryan Salyers, broadcast a nude photo of her that she had “sexted” to him while they were sweeties.
Logan’s parents, Cynthia and Albert Logan, who lost their only child, are suing Sycamore High, the former boyfriend and several teens to whom he sent the photograph. The Logans’ complaint says that after Mr. Salyers and their daughter broke up, he distributed the nude photo to a handful of other students, who in turn distributed it to still more students at Sycamore and another high school.
Logan first began complaining to school officials and police on May 5, but to no avail, her parents claim. Students called her “whore” and “skank,” made harassing phone calls and sent derogatory text messages. Schoolmates threw objects at her during graduation, and the online and phone harassment continued, they say.
She hanged herself in her bedroom after the July 3 funeral of a close friend who had committed suicide.
The actions of the students and the inactions of school and police authorities caused “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive harassment” of their daughter and violated her 14th Amendment rights of equal protection and due process of law, her parents claim.
The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, aims to force the school system to amend it policies regarding harassment claims.
R. Gary Winters, the attorney representing the school district, said that Logan’s death is a tragedy but that school officials are not to blame.
“We certainly know the Logans have suffered a great deal,” he said. “We are sympathetic to them for their loss, but we dont believe Sycamore bears any responsibility for it.”
- Deborah Simmons