How Did This Young Black Girl Return from a Camping Trip with Severe Rope Burns Around Her Neck?
A Waco mother is demanding answers after her 12-year-old daughter came home from an overnight school trip with severe rope burns around her neck.
Sandy Rougely said her daughter returned from the April 28 camping trip to a ranch with the injury covering the front half of her neck, ABC Newsreports. Many questions concerning the incident remain unanswered, but the gruesome laceration has Rougely thinking her child was the victim of racially motivated bullying from classmates. Her daughter was one of two Black students on the trip,The Dallas Morning News reports.
“It looked like somebody had ripped her neck apart and stitched it back together,” the girl’s mother told The Dallas Morning News this week.
According to ABC News, Rougely has since hired a lawyer to file a personal injury claim against the Live Oak Classical School, the private school her sixth-grade daughter attends. Her attorney, Levi McCathern, requested the school to pay $2.7 million in damages or else the allegations would be made public. Their asking price is based on living expenses, private school through the 12th grade, and college so the young girl can pursue a degree in law or medicine, The Dallas Morning News reports.
A statement released by the school claims that the young girl’s injury was “caused accidentally” as a group of students played with a rope swing attached to a tree. Jeremy Counseller, a member of the private school’s board of directors, also e-mailed a statement to The Dallas Morning News detailing the incident.
“…The student and some of her classmates were playing with a swing and an attached pull-rope on a field trip,” Counsellor wrote. “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. Live Oak takes the safety of its students seriously and is saddened that one of its family suffered an unfortunate accident and injury.”
His statement also accuses Roughley’s lawyer of using race to exploit the school, as well as the 100th anniversary of Jesse Washington’s lynching in Waco, for financial gain. Also dubbed the “Waco Horror,” a white mob mutilated and burned the body of a 17-year-old Black farmhand on May 15, 1916, according to the Texas State Historical Association’s website. The illiterate youth had just confessed to the brutal murder and rape of Lucy Fryer, a 53-year-old white woman.
McCathern and T.J. Jones, an attorney employed at McCathern’s firm, say they only asked the school for money after it requested a monetary demand in writing, The Dallas Morning News reports.
Rougely’s daughter’s account of the incident slightly differs from Counseller’s, however. The 12-year-old said she was helping swing other kids, but then stopped to watch. She then felt the rope wrap around her neck from behind, after which she was pulled backward and dragged. Rougely’s daughter also points out that none of her classmates helped her. She said she looked back after removing the rope from her neck to see three white boys who had allegedly been picking on her.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the girl asked the boys if they had done it on purpose and they responded no. But the middle-school student doesn’t see how it could have been an accident, recalling that when the kids let the rope go, it fell to the ground.
“That’s why I think it was on purpose,” she said. “I think someone tried to tie it around my neck.”
Rougely is upset that no one thought to call her after the incident. She said she didn’t learn about her daughter’s injury until the following night when she stepped off the bus wearing what she thought was a necklace, The Dallas Morning News reports.
“For Live Oak to bury their head in the sand and chalk this incident up to ‘kids being kids’ is irresponsible but, unfortunately, all too common,” said McCathern. “Their tone-deaf approach reflects an attitude that our client’s injury was not worth investigating or even informing her mother about.”
Per the news site, the incident will be investigated by officials in Blanco county, where the ranch is located. So far, no one has been accused of a crime.