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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

December-08-98

Girl Falsely Accused of Staging Hate Crime Settles With School

Sixteen-year-old Lucy Weber reached a settlement with the prestigious Middlesex Prep School in Concord, Mass. after a long dispute over the validity of several anti-Semitic notes she received while attending the school.

Weber, whose ancestry is Jewish and Protestant, reported to school officials that she received four notes at school that contained phrases such as "Gas for the Jew" with swastikas and defaced photographs. The school claimed that she was mentally ill and most likely staged the incident.

"We were victimized more by the administration than we were by the notes," said Katherine Weber, Lucy's mother. Lucy's parents believe the school was trying to protect its reputation by putting the blame on their daughter.

The police were called by school officials after the incident was reported and Lucy took a lie detector test, mandated by the school. Lucy's mother was told that her daughter passed the test, however school officials maintained that the results were inconclusive.

Deirdre Ling, head of Middlesex, reportedly told Lucy's father that his daughter suffered from multiple personalities and would have to leave the school. A psychologist hired by the family concluded that Lucy showed no signs of mental disorder.

Middlesex sent a letter to Lucy's parents in March stating that the police found that no hate crime had occurred "and that the student apparently targeted by the notes may herself have been the author of some or all of them." The police actually said there was not enough evidence to determine anything and dropped the investigation.

School officials sent a letter of apology to the family after the settlement was reached admitting to "misleading statements" in their previous letter. They said that their implications were "regrettable and unfounded."

Middlesex was the location for the filming of School Ties, a movie which addressed anti-Semitism between students at a prep school. The movie is shown to Middlesex students each year.

Media Resources: AP - December 7, 1998


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