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The family of Phoebe Prince has hired Attorney Rebecca Bouchard and could enter new legal territory should they decide to file a civil suit against school officials at South Hadley High School.
Bouchard is not commenting about her new clients, but it is believed the family could be considering taking such an action against the school.
Proving that school officials were negligent in their handling of the bullying case would be no easy feat.
“If the school administrators have specific knowledge of harassment and assault and stalking and intimidation and fail or refuse to take steps, then they need to be held accountable,” explained attorney Bradley Henry to the Cape Cod Times.
In 1997, Henry represented the family of MIT student Scott Krueger, who died after drinking alcohol at a fraternity party.
Henry points to Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel’s description of the behavior of school officials as “troublesome” when charging nine students on Monday as significant.
“The mere fact that the district attorney’s office was troubled enough by such conduct to comment about it publicly suggests there is strong evidence behind those concerns,” he added. “Where there is smoke, there is fire.”
No charges have been filed against school officials to date.
If the suit were to go ahead, the onus would be on Bouchard to prove that the actions, or lack thereof, on the part of school officials and the suicide of the Irish teenager were directly linked.
“If there’s a clear line of causal events from the harassment to the student’s suicide, and if school administrators were aware of some or all of these events and failed to act, there should be no reason at all that they should not be held accountable for those failures to act,” said Henry.
The arraignment of three of the teenagers charged in the case takes place next Thursday.