An Oregon City High School student is suing the school district following a video shown during an assembly in early February.
In the suit filed Feb. 22 in Clackamas County Circuit Court, an 18-year old senior called Jane Doe alleges the district caused emotional distress and invaded her privacy by showing the video at a school assembly that featured a male student discussing abuse he carried out against a romantic partner.
According to the filing, first reported by KGW, the male student was shown in silhouette but his voice was not altered, and numerous students recognized it was Jane Doe who the male student “was admitting he abused and assaulted.”
By showing the video, Jane Doe said the district purposefully caused “severe emotional distress including anxiety, stress, worry, and emotional distress.”
The complaint alleges that students who sponsored the assembly told “multiple administrators” not to show the video, but they were ignored.
“OCSD’s callous broadcasting of John Doe’s admission of abuse and assault upon Plaintiff without notice to or consent from Plaintiff was an extraordinary transgression of the bounds of socially tolerable behavior and her right to privacy,” the female student’s attorney states in the filing.
Jane Doe is seeking damages totaling $832,000.
In a statement shared to OPB, Oregon City School District’s interim superintendent, Kyle Laier, said the district cannot comment on current litigation.
“However, the District is dedicated to the safe education of its students and will remain committed to providing a safe and positive educational setting. It will continue to evaluate and implement policies and practices necessary to accomplish this goal,” Laier wrote. “Protecting the health and welfare of students remains a top priority for the district.”
Following the assembly last month, Oregon City High School students staged a walkout and the school board hosted a special session board meeting, where Laier offered families and students an apology.
“We didn’t meet the intent of what was supposed to happen, and in that fashion, we know that something went wrong and that something needs to be corrected,” Laier said. “Our students deserve that apology. They deserve better, and I know we’re going to work towards doing that.”
At that Feb. 4 meeting, students and parents spoke out, calling for change and for administrators to be held accountable.
According to the school calendar, the purpose of the Feb. 2 “Voices Assembly” was for students and staff to submit personal stories “to share with the school in order to make our community aware that students are not alone in their struggles and we are all here for each other.”
As stated in the Feb. 22 complaint, members of the school’s unity committee, listed as sponsors of the event, did not support showing the video.
“Our unity committee warned our administration about this story, yet nothing was done,” said Oregon City High School student council member and senior Wynter Davis during the Feb. 4 school board meeting. “It’s putting the safety of our students, and the confidentiality and anonymity of our students and the victims that were hurt at risk and that is not OK.”
Another student started a petition, last month, calling for Oregon City High School principal Carey Wilhelm to be fired.
“This petition is not only for schools abuse survivors, it’s for every victim of physical, mental, and sexual assault of any kind,” reads the petition, which has more than 3,000 signatures.
Earlier this month, Wilhelm announced she will leave her position at the end of the year.
“I wanted to take a moment to let you know that I have decided to pursue other opportunities and this will be my last year as the Oregon City High School principal,” she wrote in a March 10 message to the school community.
“Reflecting on my time here, I am inspired by our work, our learning, and our accomplishments. I look forward to finishing the year off strong as we continue to work together.”
Oregon City parents and community members continued to speak out against the school administration at a board meeting on March 14, saying not enough has been done to support students.
“All of our students, and all of our kids that went to this assembly, that protested outside of their school in solidarity...they are betrayed, they were lied to,” said Shay Zumwalt, parent of an Oregon City High School senior, at the meeting. “They were looked at with crocodile tears and said, ‘We care about you’, and ‘we’re going to do something’, and ‘we’re not going to let you feel this pain’...you promised them you’d do something.”