Family sues Rush County schools over attack caught on tape

Suit: District failed to protect, supervise kids

RUSHVILLE, Ind. - The family of a Rushville boy who was beaten up in a school attack caught on video has filed a lawsuit against the district.

In the complaint filed April 5 in Rush County court, Austin McDaniel and his parents, Nicole and Matthew McDaniel, allege the Rush County School district failed to protect and supervise students.

The incident happened Sept. 17 at Benjamin Rush Middle School.

The video shows Austin McDaniel, then 13, walking by a bank of lockers when he's approached by a 15-year-old boy, identified in the lawsuit as "K.N."

"K.N. was on juvenile probation during this time," read the lawsuit. "K.N. had told multiple students that he planned on beating up (Austin) days prior to the beating."

The video shows K.N. pulling McDaniel to the ground and punching him repeatedly, with the attack lasting for nearly a minute while other students look on.

No one from the school steps in during the video.

"Two students could not immediately find any staff to come help with the situation," read the lawsuit. "Notably (Austin's) locker is approximately only 50 feet from the secretary's desk in the administration office of BRMS."

The lawsuit said Austin suffered a concussion, hematomas on his scalp, damage to his teeth and cuts to his lips, and is seeking compensatory damages from the school corporation.

When RTV6 asked for a statement on the lawsuit, Rush County Schools Superintendent Dr. John Williams responded via email, "Turned over to insurance carrier to deal with."

The lawsuit maintains the school district has a duty to supervise its students and prevent abuse, assault and battery.

Rushville police said the 15-year-old later admitted to assaulting McDaniel, saying he heard a rumor that the younger boy was going to beat him up.

He was arrested and released into the custody of his mother, police said.

"I was absolutely sickened. It was one of the most awful things I've ever had to watch," Nicole McDaniel, Austin's mother, said of the video. "It's mortifying to literally watch your son be beaten and there's nothing you can do to help him, and there's no one there to help him, no one."

Nicole McDaniel said the school waited more than an hour to call her after the assault and did not call 911.

"It's very disheartening they took a shove-it-under-the-rug tactic," Nicole McDaniel said. "This school has to put their foot down that this is zero-tolerance and this is just not acceptable."
 

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