MENTOR, Ohio – An Ohio couple has filed a federal lawsuit saying school officials failed to stop bullying that they say led to their son's suicide.
The suit was filed last week, almost two years to the day when 17-year-old Eric Mohat shot himself in the head. Parents William and Janis Mohat say their son was taunted, pushed and harassed by classmates at Mentor High School for months before his death on March 27, 2007.
Their lawsuit accuses the school district of violating the high school junior's civil right to safety and of violating the family's constitutional right that the teen be educated in a safe environment.
It states that a student said to Mohat on the day he killed himself: "Why don't you go home and shoot yourself? No one would miss you." The lawsuit also said that at least one administrator saw Eric crying in the hall, but didn't try to help.
The lawsuit also alleges school administrators were indifferent to conditions that led to their son's death, and it claims bullying and harassment contributed to the suicides of three of Mohat's classmates.
Any monetary award would be used for anti-bullying training for schools or a scholarship in Mohat's name, said Ken Myers, lawyer for the parents.
The teen's father, Willliam Mohat, said he and his wife would drop the suit if the school system adopted tougher regulations, such as progressively harsher punishments that result in expulsion on the third incident.
Without commenting directly on the litigation, Mentor school officials said in a statement that the district takes claims of bullying and harassment seriously.
Bully induced suicides are on the rise, and that trend has coincided with an increase over the last five years in the level of viciousness in taunting — among both boys and girls, said Summit County Domestic Relations Court community outreach director Sue Tucker.