A rope burn on a 12-year-old Black girl's neck in Texas has left her mother asking if the young girl was a victim of a racially-motivated attack by her sixth grade classmates during an overnight school campout.
Sandy Rougley, the girl's mother, has retained a lawyer to press personal injury claim charges against the Live Oak Classical School, the private school her daughter attends. She spoke to Dallas Morning News to express her anger. "It looked like someone had ripped her neck apart and stitched it back together," she told the newspaper.
Rougley added that none of the chaperones called the child’s mother about the injury nor have any of the adults in the vicinity come forward as eyewitnesses. These facts have further led her to believe that her daughter was injured as a result of foul play.
School trustee Jeremy Counseller wrote a statement to the newspaper to say that Rougley is mistaken, that her daughter was injured accidentally by a rope swing and that Rougley's lawyer is using the injury to exploit the school for financial gain.
"The student received first aid treatment immediately after the accident by a parent chaperone who is also a physician, and she was able to enjoy the remainder of the field trip, which lasted through the next day," Counsellor said.
Counsellor said Rougley and her attorney, Levi McCathern, asked the school to pay $2.7 million in damages or the allegations would be made public.
The young victim, who has not been publicly named, said that she was helping classmates pull a rope swing when she stopped to watch. She said all of a sudden the rope wrapped around her neck and she felt it being pulled from behind her. She fell to the ground and when none of her classmates helped her, she removed the rope herself. When she looked back, she saw three boys, all of them white, standing over her. She asked the boys if they had wrapped the rope around her on purpose. Though they said no, she added that the three boys had been picking on her.
Rougley's daughter said the staff treated the injury with petroleum jelly and ibuprofen. T.J. Jones, a lawyer with McCathern's law firm, said that even if the incident was not on purpose, the school's handling of the situation was "beyond poor."
Waco police referred the case to Gillespie County authorities, but the Gillespie County sheriff said it should be investigated by officials in Blanco County, where the actual incident took place. While no criminal charges have been filed, investigation is ongoing. The school statement added that all eyewitnesses have been interviewed "and each independently established that the accusation made by the attorney is absolutely false."
This disturbing incident seems far from over, with both opposing sides having dramatically different stories, the only hope is that the truth comes out.
(Photo: WIN-Initiative/Getty Images)