WESTFIELD, NJ — The parents of a Westfield High School sophomore who died in 2018 have filed a lawsuit claiming the school district allowed their son to be subjected to repeated bullying, including sexual assaults and racially explicit slurs, that eventually led to his suicide.
The parents of Carthoris “Carter” Uziel filed the suit in Superior Court in Elizabeth last week. The complaint names the Board of Education, the Town of Westfield and Superintendent Margaret Dolan.
“Carter Uziel and his parents endured many years of pain and anguish not only because of the bullying to which Carter was subjected but also because of the district’s failure to take the appropriate measures to protect Carter from any future harm,” Heidi Weintraub, the attorney representing parents Gene Uziel and Frances Testini, told TAPinto Westfield. “The district’s failure to provide him with a safe environment to learn and grow cost him his life.”
Spokespersons for both the school district and the town declined to comment. Both cited their practice of not commenting on pending litigation. “The district cannot comment on pending litigation,” said school district spokeswoman Mary Ann McGann.
“The town does not comment on pending litigation,” said Kim Forde, spokeswoman for the municipality. Forde said Tuesday night the town had yet to be served.
The lawsuit claims that Carter Uziel “was subjected to an ongoing pattern of harassment, intimidation and bullying” by students at Edison Intermediate School, Roosevelt Intermediate School and Westfield High School, incidents “defendants were fully aware of but deliberately indifferent to.”
The plaintiffs claim a classmate sexually assaulted Carter Uziel on Nov. 23, 2013, an incident reported in a June 10, 2014 email to Dolan and an assistant superintendent.
In 2014, the lawsuit claims, Carter Uziel was sexually assaulted three times, incidents “immediately reported to the principal of Edison Intermediate School and then again reported in a March 18, 2016 email to Dolan.”
In 2014, a fellow student threw an ice ball that hit Carter Uziel in his face and damaged his glasses, according to the suit, which claims school officials were then made aware of the incident.
In May 2014, allegations by an unidentified group of female students led to Carter Uziel being “coerced into signing a confession and serving a detention for this alleged incident,” according to the lawsuit. The complaint does not specify what the alleged incident is.
On May 20, 2015, a classmate with a prior history of “bullying and other inappropriate behavior” pulled down Carter Uziel’s pants in class and while this student was not suspended for the action, Carter had to serve a detention, according to the lawsuit.
On Dec. 22, 2017, Gene Uziel emailed Westfield High School counselor Paul Valenzano to tell him that two students had stalked Carter Uziel for two days before punching him in the nose, the lawsuit claims.
In that same email, Gene Uziel told Valenzano that “[d]uring the school year, at lunch a few of the students used racially and explicit curses against Carter. One of them called him a ‘Jewish c*nt’ and a few other choice words,” the lawsuit claims.
Carter Uziel died by suicide on June 17, 2018, lawsuit states.
The lawsuit cites the New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act.
“Defendants had actual and/or constructive knowledge that Carter had been and was continually being bullied, tormented, intimidated and harassed in violation of the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Rights Act,” the complaint states. “Defendants did not prevent the bullying, intimidation and/or harassment and/or take appropriate remedial measures to stop the unlawful conduct.”
Click here to read the full lawsuit.
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