A N.J. bully's punch to the abdomen left a middle school student paralyzed. Now the New Jersey school district that allowed this incident to happen has agreed to pay a $4.2 million to settle a lawsuit from the victim's family.
Sawyer Rosenstein complained to school officials about being repeatedly attacked by a known violent bully at the Eric Smith Middle School. The bully punched Rosenstein in the face a year earlier.
On Feb. 9, 2006, Rosenstein, then 12, emailed school officials asking for help.
I would like to let you know that the bullying has increased, he wrote to his guidance counselor reported the Associated Press. I would like to figure out some coping mechanisms to deal with these situations, and I would just like to put this on file so if something happens again, we can show that there was past bullying situations.
Just three months later, he was punched in the abdomen at school on May 16, 2006. He complained of a pain in his back later that day at home.
Two days later his parents heard a scream from his bedroom.
We picked him up and called an ambulance, the Rosenstein's father told The New Jersey Record. He hasn't walked since.
Rosenstein was paralyzed from the waist down.
The bully's punch had caused a clot in a major artery that supplied blood to his spine, the Associated Press reported. His attorney described it as an incredibly rare injury.
The family said the school in the Ramsey district failed to comply with the state anti-bullying law, said the Rosenstein's attorney Jeffrey Youngman. The school failed to keep a record of the attacks and did not offer any punishment for the violent bully, reported the Associated Press.
Sawyer Rosenstein dreamed of being an actor. Now an 18-year-old freshmen majoring in communications at Syracuse University, he said he can't change what happened in the past.
Without a doubt, this has changed me as a person, said Rosenstein to The North Jersey Record. I can't go back and change the past. What I can do is look at what I have now and what is ahead of me. And I have my whole life ahead of me, he said.
Rosenstein spent years in treatment and rehabilitation, undergoing 19 surgeries and a complete spinal fusion. He missed almost a year of school.
Once he went back to class, he had to see his attacker every day. The violent bully had only received a few days of suspension.
The Rosenstein family settled outside of court against the attacker for an undisclosed amount last year.