Bangor student-abuse case settled

Bangor student-abuse case settled

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A federal lawsuit filed by parents of a student who allegedly suffered pervasive anti-LGBT harassment in Bangor, Pa., because she was perceived to be a lesbian has been settled.

The settlement was announced Oct. 12. Terms of the settlement were unavailable.

In December 2015, Tammy and Russell Bittenbender filed a lawsuit alleging their daughter suffered extensive anti-LGBT abuse while she was a student at the Bangor Area School District.

Bangor is a borough in Northampton County, located about 32 miles north of Allentown.

The Bittenbenders’ lawsuit contended that eight students constantly harassed and abused their daughter, “S.B.,” for about five years. S.B. allegedly was called “lesbian,” “gay,” “whore,” “slut” and “fag” by her harassers. 

Complaints about the alleged abuse were made to appropriate authorities, to no avail, according to the suit.

The Bittenbenders alleged Bangor school-district officials violated Title IX, a federal law banning sex discrimination in education. They requested more than $150,000 in damages.

Eventually, S.B. transferred to a school in New Jersey, according to court filings. 

Defense attorneys denied any wrongdoing on the part of district officials. They referred to the alleged verbal abuse as “stray remarks” that didn’t establish severe and pervasive harassment, even if some of the remarks had a sexual connotation. 

John E. Freund 3d, an attorney for the school district, issued this statement: “The district’s insurance company decided to settle the case rather than expend the cost of defense. The school district denies that it tolerates bullying of any kind and [asserts] that it acted promptly to address the bullying in this case.”

An attorney for the Bittenbenders had no comment.

Prior to the settlement, jury selection had been scheduled for June in Philadelphia, with U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry S. Perkin presiding.

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