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.

West Doss, attorney for Billy Wolfe, speaks to members of the media following the announcement of the verdict in his client's harassment lawsuit against the Fayetteville School District.

— 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.

Hooray for justice! The FPSS had to sit quite all this time. Let's see if the NY Times and the Today show follow up with the ending.

Posted by: Wildturkey

May 12, 2010 at 5:11 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Well, had it not been for NY Times and the Today show Fayetteville School system would have allowed this harassment to continue. For that to stop Billy paid a helluva price. I know two families who pulled kids out of Fayetteville High School for reasons of peer harassment.

Posted by: cdawg

May 12, 2010 at 6:32 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

I disagree with this verdict. As a personal friend of Billy, I know what he had to suffer and know he did not deserve any of what happened. If the school had done all it could, Billy would not have been bullied all his life. AND the kids should have been punished more than they were. But I suppose its always more justice for the school because the school could never do wrong, right? PUH-LEASE.

Posted by: amywoods89

May 12, 2010 at 7:56 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Cry me a river Amy. The jury heard his 'case' and shot it down. He was lucky that the District took the high road and didn't share all the dirt on him.

Posted by: Wildturkey

May 12, 2010 at 8:23 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

So sexual harassment was never mentioned until a lawyer got involved and you think justice was not given to Wolfe. As an impartial third party, I know no one from FPSS or the Wolfe's so I am not biased, sounds to me that they had no case and were out for money. Plus, consider how much happened outside of school and how much Wolfe initiated it really sounds like they had no case.

Posted by: BCGuy

May 13, 2010 at 7:53 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

This is such a shame and shows that our children are not safe in the public school system. This behavior against another student would never have been tolerated in a Christian private school!

Indeed I am saddened by the outcome. I think there needs to be 0 tolerance for bullying and that there needs to be more state laws that keep children safe in a school environment. I think the way this lawyer chose to file was erroneous which was the error that caused the outcome. My heart goes out to Billy and his family as the outcome is certainly injust at best and only sends the wrong message.

Posted by: vricardo730

August 8, 2010 at 4:20 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Yep, no one ever gets in trouble in a Christian school. Find one place, just one place where a child is completely safe. I guess you want 5 year olds kicked out of school for calling a kid a dum dum? And there are laws and zero tolerance on bullying. Sounds like you want cops, teachers, and everyone else to solve all your problems. Grow up! It's called adulthood afterall...

Posted by: BCGuy

August 8, 2010 at 9:41 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

"This behavior would never have been tolerated in a Christian private school." I've been there, and it is tolerated at least if the bully is a star athlete. Hands off on those kids. Bullying can happen anywhere. So if you think the private schools in this area are somewhat superior, think again.

Posted by: bookgirl

August 8, 2010 at 10:24 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Oh yet another story sensationalized by the media, only to have the court case show exactly the opposite once all the facts of the case are known.

What Fayetteville Schools couldn't share with the media (due to privacy laws) was that Billy wasn't bullied; he was actually the instigator in almost every case he was suing over. Same thing happened at the other schools he attended. Remember, he has bounced around from district to district because of the same "bullying".

So for those of you who feel sorry for him, you never knew all of the story.

Posted by: x3

August 8, 2010 at 10:55 a.m. ( | suggest removal )