Mass. native files lawsuit against town, school officials

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December 1, 2011, 9:38 pm
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(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Stoughton, MA) - Four years after she says a sexting scandal forced her to leave her high school, led her to have an eating disorder, and even attempt suicide, an 18-year-old Stoughton, Massachusetts native has filed a lawsuit against the town, her former principal and former superintendent.

The woman known in the lawsuit as "Jane Doe" says everything began to unravel when she started talking to a 17-year-old soccer player named "R.J." in the lawsuit.

She said the junior pressured her - a 14-year-old at the time - to send him nude photos.
 
"I started talking to him online, and then I had sent him the pictures thinking it was a good idea, to really make him like me, and then the rape occurred a few days later, and then I had told a friend about the rape about a month later and that's when he sent the pictures out," said 'Jane Doe.'
 
She said the nude photos were passed around Stoughton High School, creating an environment where students were constantly harassing her and making fun of her.
 
"Not even two days after it occurred, I went down to guidance to talk to them and they said 'well at least you're just a freshman because something new will happen next week and you'll be old news,'" said "Jane Doe."
 
Her attorney said the harassment became unbearable.
 
"Jane was in a situation in which she could not go to school," said Attorney Carmen Durso.
 
Child development expert Diane Levin said sexting has become a problem in society that seems to value sexiness in females, even at a young age.
 
"More and more your popularity comes from doing that kind of risk-taking behavior, and that's who the cool kids are," said Levin.
 
Levin said with technology constantly changing, it's tough for school administrators to truly understand how damaging something like sexting can be.
 
"Things have changed and I don't think, it's not the fault of the administrators, things have changed very fast and we're only now beginning to understand the effects," said Levin.
 
The young woman's attorney is suing under the school's Title IX obligations, alleging administrators failed to protect her from harassment after nude cell phone photos were spread throughout the school.

We contacted town and school administrators who said this was the first they were hearing of the lawsuit.

We should note the superintendent and principal named in the suit are no longer employed by the district.
 
Now in a related 2009 criminal lawsuit, "R.J." was charged with statutory rape.

He pled down to a lesser charge of simple assault and did not serve time.

Tags: lawsuit, Alysha Palumbo, Stoughton, sexting, Title IX, scandal, Diane Levin, jane doe, attorney carmen durso
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