FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and one of its local Catholic schools was vindicated in a bullying trial Friday.
An Allen County jury found no wrongdoing by the diocese or Most Precious Blood Catholic School, after a former student and his family claimed he was physically abused by classmates.
Leonardo Strahm, who suffers from cerebral palsy, and his parents say at least four other students pushed, punched and name-called Leonardo between September 2008 and December 2009.
After four hours of deliberation, the jury sided with the diocese and school.
While the jury did decide one student did cause emotional distress on Leonardo, no monetary compensation was awarded.
"Even though the Strahms didn't prevail, I think the message of the trial is that schools do need to be on notice and do need to deal with these problems," Konrad Urberg, attorney for the Strahm family says.
It is not clear what tipped the jury in the defense's favor, but diocesan lawyers argued that had the boy been bullied, other students would have come forward.
"We're thankful for the outcome," diocesan spokesman Sean McBride says. "More importantly, it's time to put things into the past and move forward."
The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend originally offered the Strahm family a secret settlement. When details of the deal were made public in court, the diocese retracted the deal; and the trial proceeded.
Friday afternoon, the Strahm family walked away with no money.
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