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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

February 13, 2010

6-YEAR OLD WINS SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASE

Enterprise News, MA - It began with a 6-year-old city boy touching a girl in his class, and it ended up costing the city $50,000 in legal fees - plus thousands more in city insurance payouts totaling nearly a quarter-million dollars. The elementary school student, accused of sexually harassing a classmate as a first-grader in 2006, will receive a total of about $160,000 in a legal settlement reached with the city. His parents received $20,000. The boy, then 6, was suspended from the Downey Elementary School for three days after school officials accused him of sexually harassing a classmate.

The principal said he had violated sexual harassment policy by touching a female classmate inside her clothing waistband during a class. The case garnered international media attention, becoming the subject of talk shows and Internet discussion forums across the country. Settlement documents and legal records obtained recently by The Enterprise show that the city spent $50,000 on legal defense fees to the Boston law firm Peabody & Arnold, which represented the city in the case. Then, insurance kicked in. The city's insurance carrier, AIG, paid out $240,000 in legal fees and settlements.

In an interview with The Enterprise at that time, Berthena Dorinvil said the principal called her to pick up her son and told her the boy had been sitting behind the girl on the carpet in a classroom with a teacher and about 20 students present. The girl complained to the teacher about the boy touching her. Dorinvil said the principal told her that her son had put two fingers inside the waistband of the girl's pants and touched her skin. "She said to me, 'That's sexual harassment,'" Dorinvil said at the time.

The school suspended the boy for three days. After The Enterprise reported on the case, the story went worldwide and a media debate erupted over whether a child that age can sexually harass someone. Later, the school department revised its policy on sexual harassment among students.


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