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Family files lawsuit after teen charged for fighting off bully to protect himself

The Harrison High School student said he was a victim of bullying – and got in trouble with the law when he tried to stand up for himself. Now, his family is suing.

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The family of a Cobb County teen who said he was constantly picked on at school has filed a lawsuit, after he got in trouble with the law for defending himself.

11Alive received a copy of the lawsuit on Wednesday.

Jorge Santa, a Harrison High School sophomore, was facing charges of felony assault, battery and criminal trespass after two other students confronted him. 

Santa's family said he was called racial slurs, mocked and had food stolen from his backpack. They said he was also sprayed in the face with a can of silly string. It prompted Santa to jump up and strike the bully, but the teen's family said he got suspended for it.

PREVIOUS STORY: Family considers suing Cobb County Schools after teen charged for fighting off bully to protect himself

The felony charges were all later dropped by the Cobb County District Attorney's office, but the attorney for the family said what happened was a clear case of bullying.

The family is now suing two staff members of the Cobb County School district - a teacher and a school resource officer - who they said did nothing to intervene, despite being aware of the alleged bullying.

According to the lawsuit, the teacher was informed via email of the bullying by a fellow teacher, who said that a witness wanted to speak about what happened.

The suit says the moment that teacher was made aware of the situation, he "owed a ministerial duty" to investigate the matter. Further, according to the lawsuit, when the teacher had a conversation with the teen's father, who asked why the teen was not allowed to defend himself according to state anti-bullying laws, the teacher reportedly said that "state law does not trump school policy."

The lawsuit then accuses the school resource officer, of inaccurately describing the incident as a "joke" in his report, despite hearing the teacher tell the teen's father the situation was a bullying incident.

Both "knew that this was no joke, and neither of them performed an investigation," the lawsuit said. "Defendants chose to pursue felony charges of assault and battery against Plaintiff, who was merely defending himself against a known bully."

The lawsuit said had the staff members and the school taken action against the accused bully years before, the teen would not have been bullied or penalized for fighting back.

The lawsuit is now asking for punitive damages. 

11Alive reached out to the school district for a response to the complaint. In a statement, a spokesperson for the district said "We look forward to the facts of this case being adjudicated in court, not through traditional or social media."


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