District pays former Clatskanie students $75K to settle 'sextort - KPTV - FOX 12

District pays former Clatskanie students $75K to settle 'sextortion' lawsuit

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Clatskanie Middle/High School, file image Clatskanie Middle/High School, file image
CLATSKANIE, OR (KPTV) -

The Clatskanie School District has agreed to pay three former students $75,000 each to settle a federal lawsuit claiming administrators were aware the girls had been the victims of "sextortion" by classmates. 

Three girls and their families filed the lawsuit in October 2013. On Thursday, the district issued a release about the settlement that also outlined numerous policy changes that have been implemented at Clatskanie schools.

Two of the three teens spoke to FOX 12 in November 2013 and described what they had gone through as middle school students.

Josi Harrison and Laura Lefebvre said they were bullied into sending nude photos of themselves to boys at their school.

The girls said when they went to Principal Jeff Baughman, who resigned when the allegations surfaced, as well as teachers and counselors, they were told to "suck it up."

The teens said their then-boyfriends manipulated them into sending the initial photos, but soon other students started harassing them over the images. More and more boys claimed to have their photos, and they said if the girls didn't send more, they would post them all online and "show the world."

The threats came in person, during and after school, and through emails, text messages and on Facebook, court documents state.

"She told me that she felt like the people who are supposed to protect her, or keep her safe, couldn't, or wouldn't," said Lefebvre's mother in 2013. "She just didn't understand that."

Harrison said it only got worse when they reported the situation to counselors and police.

"When people started finding out about it, I started getting bullied really bad," she told FOX 12 in 2013. "I was getting shoved into lockers by people who I grew up with."

The girls all ended up transferring out of the district and moving away to avoid further harassment. Lefebvre said she attempted to commit suicide. Harrison was diagnosed with PTSD and had surgery to treat a stress-related heart condition.

Both girls said they came forward with their stories in hopes of preventing others from becoming victims.

"I just want people to know that things like this do happen and that if you're a young girl caught in a situation and don't know what to do, to contact adults," Harrison said.

One boy admitted guilt in juvenile court on charges of harassment and public indecency, and was put on probation.

Administrators declined to comment when the lawsuit was filed. On Thursday, the district outlined a number of new policies, including increasing mental health services in the district, the formation an anti-bulling committee, increased supervision by staff in the hallways and the addition of more clubs such as speech, debate, drama and forestry to increase student participation.

A representative from the Oregon School Boards Association also spoke to staff and students about sexual harassment.

Student cell phone policies were updated to include, "no cell phone use during instructional times."

"It was not easy for the students to file suit against the district, but their efforts have brought about positive change," according to a district statement.

The three former students will each receive a $75,000 payment from the district's insurance carrier to settle the lawsuit, the district stated.

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