<Lumley: There was no punishment for the guys who did this they were not punished in the court, they were not punished in the schools and we just feel that the, there has not been an opportunity yet where the truth has come out. >
Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us.
I'm Frank Malloy.
And I'm Leah Johnson.
This is Eyewitness News at Six.
You just heard from the attorney for a Macon family that's suing the Bibb County School District.
They say the district tried to expel a 16-year-old special needs student who said she was gang raped in a men's room.... but never disciplined the teens who allegedly assaulted her.
The complaint first surfaced at Northeast high school in January.
Seven Northeast high students were charged with raping the girl... but police dropped charges several weeks later.
Austin Lewis has been following this story and has more on the lawsuit.
I talked to Jerry Lumley...one of the attorneys for the alleged victim...and he describes her as a shy and withdrawn teen who has a history of mental and emotional issues.
Lumley says she was a special needs student at Northeast High School who has the mental capacity of a 9-year-old.
He told me that since the alleged assault... the teen has become more withdrawn and at times won't leave the house.
<she's not able to attend school she doesn't have a social life um, um, she is receiving counseling and counselors feel she is improving but this was a very devastating event and um I think she is improving but I don't know if she will ever be able to fully recover.
Macon police said several youths had sex with the girl in a men's room....but it was consensual.
But Lumley told me she doesn't have the mental capacity to consent.
When I asked whether his client told police that she had lied about the rape...he said this.
<Lumley: I have reviewed the tape, the tape of an interview she was given where she was not allowed to have an attorney or her mother present um, I don't think, she did not tell the police that, um, I um, think that given her disabilities she was put under a tremendous amount of pressure and should have not been questioned she had already been question by the appropiate authorities and there was no need for further questioning>
We asked Macon police about their investigation of the case...but so far they have not responded.
The lawsuit also criticizes Bibb schools' policies...and how it handled the alleged rape.
It claims that Bibb schools did not properly trains teachers in safety...
they did not react to previous acts of sexual harassment in the schools...
and they failed to properly discipline the male students involved.
The family is seeking damages that include compensation for medical cost and education expenses.
Lumley says neither he nor the family can put a price on the damages... but a jury can.
Lumley: We feel that it's best for that to be decided by a jury um, we want the members of the community to decide what would be the appropiate measure of damages in this case um this is a case that's going to call on the community to exercise its conscience on what's right.
No trial date has been set but we'll continue to follow this story.
We also contacted Bibb schools and they sent us this statement.
"It is the long-standing policy of the Bibb County School District to refrain from publicly commenting on pending lawsuits...The District reaffirms its commitment to doing everything within its power to keep our schools safe places for learning."
We have Another update tonight... this one is on a story that we first reported more than a year ago... Documents show Georgia Southern University and a company co-owned by State Senator Cecil Staton are close to reaching a deal.
In 2011... the University ended a contract with Georgia Eagle Media to broadcast the school's sports events.
They said the company owed them about 53-thousand dollars.
Lorra Lynch Jones has the details of the impending settlement.
These documents obtained through an open records request from the Georgia Southern's Office of Legal Affairs outline what took place at mediation between Georgia Southern and Georgia Eagle Media.
The parties met to settle their dispute September 28th... And reached two main conclusions.
One... Georgie Eagle Media will pay Georgia Southern University 15-thousand dollars in cash.
That's less than a third of the money the school still contends the company owes for breach of contract.
Two... Georgia Southern will offer Georgia Eagle Media the opportunity to be a network affiliate for the 2013-2014 athletic season.
Georgia Eagle does own all the radio stations in Statesboro... And that agreement will allow the university to broadcast its games locally.
The memo goes on to explain why Georgia Southern agreed to the terms.
It says the university's attorney.. Maura Copeland... made a demand for the full amount of cash... But Georgia Eagle was unwilling to pay that.
Copeland writes that Georgia Eagle then threatened the university with a lawsuit... And at that point... considering the potential costs of litigation... She chose to pursue a settlement.
She wrote that a court battle would cost taxpayer money... Since Georgia Southern is a state funded university.
In Copeland's opinion... the company owes the full 53-thousand...
But she concluded... "The University pursued this debt to the final step before costly, uncertain and time-consuming litigation. Without certainty of recovering the full amount, it seemed to me...
... a more responsible use of State resources to take the offered settlement and avoid expending more than we stood to recover in litigation."
Senator Staton was not available for comment... But referred us to his attorney Wendell Horne.
Horne said the two parties hope to have signed settlement in the next few days.
Lorra Lynch Jones, 13WMAZ... Eyewitness News.
Staton won re-election to the Senate in July... And this month... Was reappointed by the Republican caucus as the majority whip for the next legislative session.
He's also a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairman of the subcommittee on Higher Education... Which makes recommendations on laws and funding for state universities and colleges.
You can read the full text of the settlement memo... Plus background on the dispute... On 13-WMAZ-dot-com.
Just Look for this story on our home page.
Adminstrators with the Woodruff Arts Center... Home of the High Museum in Atlanta...say an employee bilked the museum out of a massive sum of money over the past five years.
<it has been confirmed that we did have fraud perpetrated against the Woodruff arts center by a former employee who was a middle manager who was not concerned with the financial aspects of the woodruff arts center. The total dollar amount that we've confirmed is a million, four-hundred-thirty eight thousand dollars.>
The Woodruff has brought in external finance experts and handed information over to the U.S. Attorney.
No word yet on any related arrests.
Adminstrators believe the employee acted alone...and submitted fake invoices for payment.
The investigation is ongoing.
This Tuesday... we take a moment for the Great Hang Up... as students head back to school this week after Thanksgiving breaks.
But some say their classmates forget everything from schoolwork to the rules of the road during vacation time.
They say not allowing cellphones in school... Makes them more likely to pick up their phones after the bell rings.... Especially in the school parking lot.
Some students suggest adding more technology in the classroom Will curb their appetites for electronics after the bell rings.
<with us being in the cell phone age or whatever, that's just all we do, all we do is text, all we do is talk on the phone and I guess they think that's more important for them to see a text than to drive or focus on other things.>
If you would like to sign our Great Hang Up pledge.... Head over to 13WMAZ dot com.... You'll see a Great Hangup Banner at the top of the page.
Bulldog mania has taken over Monroe County. Mary Persons High School football team is in the quarterfinals. In support of the dogs...all schools in the county will be dismissed early at 12:30 on Friday's game day.
Mary Persons will battle it out with Ridgeland High School in Rossville....that's just outside Chattanooga....on the Georgia-Tennessee line. The early dismissal will give students ample time to make the four hour drive to cheer on the dawgs.
And downtown Forysth is rumbling with excitement.
<(Jonathan Butts, The Prime Palate) We're all for the football team and glad they made it as far as they had and hope they'll win this Friday>
<(Frank Lucas, cook Pizza Hut) If they make this one, they're going to the dome. I hope they make it to the dome>
<(Alan Ralph, owner sharp framing and art) This is a big deal. The team here probably hasn't been to that level in awhile>
We received over 90 comments on our page...with several saying education should be the priority and that the dismissal is an inconvenience to working parents. But that's not enough to dampen the bulldog spirit. The game starts at 7:30 PM in Rossville.
We'll run down all of the Central georgia teams playing this Friday a little later on in this newscast..
Macon and Bibb community leaders handed local delegation members a laundry list of requests to consider in the upcoming legislative session.
As Katelyn Heck shows you... Many of them favored the same topics...
but when discussions turned to non-partisan elections, some found themselves on opposite sides of the isle.
State Representative Allen Peake and Senator Cecil Staton plan to kick off the legislative session with a bill to take party lines out of local elections.
<there's not going to be consistency among members on the support or non support for this issue but I think it's something the community wants. I think it's something that we need. At the end of the day, a local elected position should be about who is most competent and most qualified and I think that's the route we need to go.>
Just like Peake said... Some delegation members think voters should know a candidates party affiliation. Macon Mayor Robert Reichert says... He's in favor of non-partisan elections... But proposed a compromise.
His idea follows the same format as state special elections... There is no primary election... Where voters have to choose either a democratic or republican ballot.... All of the candidates will appear on one ballot... But with their party affiliation next to their name.
He says many delegation members have been open to considering this option.
<kind of like hmm... Let's think about it. Maybe it's a compromise between these two hard and fast positions... We're going to have partisan elections... No we're going to have non-partisan elections. This is kind of a way you can blend the two.>
His idea caught the attention of some elected officials... Like State Representative Nikki Randall... Who wants party labels on the ballot.
<I could probably live with that compromise. I think it's important that the general public knows which party that these candidates affiliate with.>
Bibb County Chairman Sam Hart told me... He thinks the delegation should hold off on the partisan...non-partisan discussions...at least until after next year's session.
Katelyn Heck 13WMAZ Eyewitness News
The proposed wish lists also included topics from transportation projects... To urban development.
For more on what community leaders had to say... Look for this story on our website... 13WMAZ dot com.
Each year, the Macon-Bibb County Economic Opportunity Council offers folks a chance to offset costs...as temperatures drop and heating bills rise.
Tomorrow, the council plans to announce dates and locations where you can apply for a little help this winter.
Look for the details on 13wmaz.com and Eyewitness News.
Garland... lights... and all kinds of festive decorations are at the Old Governor's Mansion...
And volunteers are getting ready for this year's Christmas tour.
It showcases southern holiday traditions.
More than 150 volunteers are working together to bring a piece of the past to Christmas 2012. Organizers say they're using different types of live greenery... Pine cones... and roses to give the mansion a traditional look.
The christmas tree alone uses 5 thousand lights... and 15 hundred ornaments.
A closer look as we say goodnight.
But stay with us... The CBS Evening News is next.
See you back here at 11.