A girl who claims she was being bullied when she attacked her tormentor and sent her to hospital has been put on probation for the school assault.
Details shared in court provide a glimpse into just how tough life in a Brandon high school can be.
Court heard that the offender snapped after she found notes left around the school that stated she’d been raped. Her lawyer says that she had, in fact, been abused as a child.
“High school can be a pretty cruel place,” Judge John Combs said in court on Monday. “People can say and do things that perhaps are an expression of the fact that they don’t think very much before they say things, and they can say some pretty cruel things.”
The assailant can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. To protect the identity of the offender and victim, the Brandon Sun isn’t identifying the school where the assault happened.
The 17-year-old pleaded guilty on Monday to assault causing bodily harm for the beating, which Crown prosecutor Kaley Tschetter said was captured on surveillance video.
That footage showed how the offender grabbed the 17-year-old victim and threw her into a metal door in the school hallway. The victim’s head hit the door and she fell to the floor.
As the victim lay on the floor, her attacker kicked her in the face. The assailant then knelt and punched the victim in the head about 10 times before fleeing.
A teacher helped the victim to the school office before she was taken to hospital. There were injuries to her eye, cheek, nose and elbow, but no broken bones.
Tschetter said school staff were warned of impending trouble two days before the attack.
The girl who was later beaten had shown the vice-principal a Facebook post in which her attacker’s sister had referred to her as a wretched-looking “white girl” and stated she was going to “get it” for “talking s--t” about her sister.
“(The girl) was obviously quite scared before the attack that something might happen and went to her vice-principal. Something in fact did happen a couple of days after that,” Tschetter said.
Court heard the assailant is aboriginal, originally from a Westman First Nation.
Defence lawyer Philip Sieklicki said his young client had been bullied and subjected to an “extreme case of provocation” prior to the assault.
The bullying began with the victim and her friends laughing at the girl and calling her a “loser,” Sieklicki said.
The girl ignored the name-calling at first, but then began to talk back.
Sieklicki said the torment took a cruel turn when a friend of the beating victim handed the bullied girl a letter at school.
“She opened the letter, and it said: ‘You’re a loser … You called me a loser, but you’re a loser. You’re the one who got raped when you were a little girl. You’re worth nothing. You should go kill yourself, because that’s what I would have done if I was you,’” Sieklicki said, paraphrasing the letter based on his client’s account.
The day of the assault, the bullied girl found letters left around the school that named her as a rape victim, Sieklicki said.
Sieklicki said the bullied girl had been abused when she was younger, although he didn’t specify how. Upset after finding the letters, she attacked when she saw the victim in the school hallway.
Tschetter said that just before the beating, the offender had confronted the victim with “notes,” but they appeared to be blank pieces of paper. The victim denied having anything to do with the notes and that’s when she was attacked.
Combs placed the assailant on probation for a year, with orders to take anger management and complete 40 hours of community service work.
No longer at the same school, the girl was also ordered to stay away from the victim while on probation.
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