I read this article in the Omaha World Herald today.
LINCOLN – An Omaha Westside high school student went beyond mere juvenile behavior when he called a fellow student “fat penguin” and other names, threw food at her and tripped her with a chair, the Nebraska Supreme Court said today.
The court ruled that the boy, identified only as Jeffrey K., violated Nebraska’s law against stalking.
“The cumulative effect of Jeffrey’s words and actions, and the extensive, ongoing and escalating nature of his conduct clearly show that Jeffrey intended to intimidate the victim in this case,” the court said.
Jeffrey was 16 at the time of the incidents, which occurred from September through Nov. 4, 2004, at Omaha’s Westside High School, according to court documents.
He was tried in Juvenile Court, which found that he had violated the state’s stalking law.
The Supreme Court’s ruling today overturned a decision last year by the Nebraska Court of Appeals. The majority of the appeals court concluded that Jeffrey’s actions were done for his “own juvenile amusement” and did not constitute stalking.
One appeals judge dissented, saying the “fact that Jeffrey found his behavior amusing does not justify the conclusion that Jeffrey did not intend to intimidate the victim.”
The high court agreed with that dissent. It said the evidence showed that Jeffrey intended to intimidate his victim and that his actions would have intimidated a reasonable person.
“Jeffrey yelled at his victim close to 200 times, in front of her friends and other students at school. Moreover, he threw food at her and shoved a chair directly in the victim’s path, causing the chair to hit her,” the Supreme Court said.
The girl in the case testified that she had tried to avoid Jeffrey because of his actions, including moving to another part of the lunchroom. She also said she felt “emotionally very badly” and “very put down.”
Under Nebraska law, stalking occurs when a person “willfully harasses another person with the intent to injure, terrify, threaten or intimidate.”
In its decision, the Supreme Court said Nebraska law differs from some other stalking laws that require evidence a person’s behavior actually placed the victim in fear.
You bet behavior like this is intimidating. I’m glad there’s a law against it. I wish more people who are bullied in school would use this law to their advantage. I’ve been out of high school for… Um, well, a looooooong time. Over 30 years, and I’ve never been to a class reunion because of stuff like this that went on when I was in school. I was constantly the butt of the fat jokes. Me and several of my friends who hung around together. You know what’s really funny? I wasn’t fat in high school, I wore a size 12! But you know, if you’re not a size 2 or less, you’re fat. I’m glad this girl was vindicated! Fat penguin, indeed!