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How Did This Young Black Girl Return from a Camping Trip with Severe Rope Burns Around Her Neck?

Sandy Rougely says her daughter returned home from a camping trip with this rope burn covering the front half of her neck. Photo courtesy of Sandy Rougely

Sandy Rougely says her daughter returned home from a camping trip with this rope burn covering the front half of her neck. Photo courtesy of Sandy Rougely

A Waco mother is demanding answers after her 12-year-old daughter came home from an overnight school trip with severe rope burns around her neck.

Sandy Rougely said her daughter returned from the April 28 camping trip to a ranch with the injury covering the front half of her neck, ABC News reports. Many questions concerning the incident remain unanswered, but the gruesome laceration has Rougely thinking her child was the victim of racially motivated bullying from classmates. Her daughter was one of two Black students on the trip, The Dallas Morning News reports.

“It looked like somebody had ripped her neck apart and stitched it back together,” the girl’s mother told The Dallas Morning News this week.

According to ABC News, Rougely has since hired a lawyer to file a personal injury claim against the Live Oak Classical School, the private school her sixth-grade daughter attends. Her attorney, Levi McCathern, requested the school to pay $2.7 million in damages or else the allegations would be made public. Their asking price is based on living expenses, private school through the 12th grade, and college so the young girl can pursue a degree in law or medicine, The Dallas Morning News reports.

A statement released by the school claims that the young girl’s injury was “caused accidentally” as a group of students played with a rope swing attached to a tree. Jeremy Counseller, a member of the private school’s board of directors, also e-mailed a statement to The Dallas Morning News detailing the incident.

“…The student and some of her classmates were playing with a swing and an attached pull-rope on a field trip,” Counsellor wrote. “The student received first aid treatment immediately after the accident by a parent chaperone who is also a physician, and she was able to enjoy the remainder of the field trip, which lasted through the next day. Live Oak takes the safety of its students seriously and is saddened that one of its family suffered an unfortunate accident and injury.”

His statement also accuses Roughley’s lawyer of using race to exploit the school, as well as the 100th anniversary of Jesse Washington’s lynching in Waco, for financial gain. Also dubbed the “Waco Horror,” a white mob mutilated and burned the body of a 17-year-old Black farmhand on May 15, 1916, according to the Texas State Historical Association’s website. The illiterate youth had just confessed to the brutal murder and rape of Lucy Fryer, a 53-year-old white woman.

McCathern and T.J. Jones, an attorney employed at McCathern’s firm, say they only asked the school for money after it requested a monetary demand in writing, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Rougely’s daughter’s account of the incident slightly differs from Counseller’s, however. The 12-year-old said she was helping swing other kids, but then stopped to watch. She then felt the rope wrap around her neck from behind, after which she was pulled backward and dragged. Rougely’s daughter also points out that none of her classmates helped her. She said she looked back after removing the rope from her neck to see three white boys who had allegedly been picking on her.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the girl asked the boys if they had done it on purpose and they responded no. But the middle-school student doesn’t see how it could have been an accident, recalling that when the kids let the rope go, it fell to the ground.

“That’s why I think it was on purpose,” she said. “I think someone tried to tie it around my neck.”

Rougely is upset that no one thought to call her after the incident. She said she didn’t learn about her daughter’s injury until the following night when she stepped off the bus wearing what she thought was a necklace, The Dallas Morning News reports.

“For Live Oak to bury their head in the sand and chalk this incident up to ‘kids being kids’ is irresponsible but, unfortunately, all too common,” said McCathern. “Their tone-deaf approach reflects an attitude that our client’s injury was not worth investigating or even informing her mother about.”

Per the news site, the incident will be investigated by officials in Blanco county, where the ranch is located. So far, no one has been accused of a crime.

What people are saying

13 thoughts on “How Did This Young Black Girl Return from a Camping Trip with Severe Rope Burns Around Her Neck?

  1. Oh, so that is your comment regarding this story?

  2. I can't even believe they didn't notify her mother right after this happened, how reprehensible of them to be so cavalier about it TOO!

  3. JT Wilson says:

    "Caused accidentally"?? FOH with tha BS

  4. His statement also accuses Roughley’s lawyer of using race to exploit the school….?
    Did she have a rope around her neck and did the school attempt to cover it up? Pretty clear racial situation to some of us. Clearly the race of the child had a part to play in why those teachers did not treat that child the way they would have treated a child that looks like theirs.

  5. The fact they did not contact the parents the moment it happened could be viewed as an attempt to cover it up. This is not going to turn out well for the school, nor should it.

  6. April Bernal says:

    I think the families of those boys need to be held responsible.

  7. As soon as she noticed her child's neck getting off the bus, she should have made her point out the 3 boys.

  8. So nooses are referred to as rope swings now? It's a game now?

  9. Wait so these "racist white boys" attempted to "lynch" this girl but she decided to saty another day and a half on the field trip and not say this was a racial attack until they contacted a lawyer??? Sounds like they trying to make this into something bigger than it really was

  10. The girl was treated by a nurse right after it happened. She went about her day playing without any problems. I don't believe the school had anything to cover up. It looks to be a clear accident. I think the Attorney is making it out to be Racial. Money does talk. Even the Attorney said it could have been a accident but questions the school not calling the parents. Maybe they should have done that, but it's not Racial. Call it what it is, poor judgement.

  11. Nigel Jacob says:

    How is a 6th grader going to leave a camping trip by herself?

  12. we cant send our kids out with a bunch of white people….wake up black people

  13. Sean Hellier says:

    Speaking as a white dude, this thing fills me with revulsion, and shame.

    It may be that the white boys who did this were just mean spirited creatures who don't know the history this thing evokes, or they full well know. Either way, this needs public investigation.

    That my black fellows see this in the context of our terrible history compells me to offer an apology.

    Whatever else this was, it was a crime. By sixth grade, kids know right from wrong, and yet they nearly killed that girl.

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