Fayetteville School District wins in Wolfe lawsuit
Posted: May 12, 2010 at 3:58 p.m.
Updated: May 12, 2010 at 4:17 p.m.
FAYETTEVILLE A federal jury found in favor of the Fayetteville School District in a lawsuit filed by Billy Wolfe, a former student who claimed the district didn't do enough to stop other students from harassing him.
Jurors returned the verdict in the seven-day trial Wednesday afternoon, a little more than four hours after the case was turned over to them for deliberation.
William “Billy” Wolfe sued the Fayetteville District alleging he was beaten and sexually harassed by classmates because he did not meet their stereotypical expectations of male masculinity. The suit sought $2.5 million in damages.
The school district's attorneys argued school officials responded to every complaint from Wolfe or his family they had authority over. Some incidents occurred away from school.
"We are pleased with the jury's decision," district officials said in a brief statement released moments after the verdict. "We are grateful to our legal team for their excellent work in presenting our case and to the jury for giving their time and attention throughout this trial. Trials are always disruptive, and we're grateful to the students' parents for their understanding and cooperation."
The lawsuit originated amid complaints by the family that Wolfe had been bullied during several years within the district. It later became focused on assertions of sexual harassment because some students used sexual language or name-calling in referring to Wolfe.
Wolfe's claims in 2008 made national headlines, with a columnist in the New York Times portraying Wolfe as a victim. He subsequently appeared on multiple national news programs, including NBC's "Today" show.
Read tomorrow's Northwest Arkansas Times or return to NWAonline.com for more from the trial.