Published online April 21, 2016 12:51 a.m. Updated 12:37 p.m.
By Patrice K. Muhammad, Editor
A Lexington Catholic High School spokesman says that the investigation into the student text messaging scandal where a Caucasian football team member threatened to lynch his Black teammate is still ongoing.
On April 8th, LCHS President Dr. Steve Angelucci said in a released statement that the “student involved in this situation has been suspended from school until our investigation has been completed.’’
The 2015-16 school handbook states “a student may be removed from all classes for one to ten days.’’
If followed, this student could return to school this week.
The school president has claimed that the April 6 exclusive Key Newsjournal report of the scandal, “honestly caught us by surprise. What actually occurred and how this situation has been handled differs in some important ways from how it was described.’’
However, The Key Newsjournal has proof of communication between the victim’s family and Lexington Catholic Football Coach Mark Perry and Principal Sally Stevens as early as the evening of March 7, 2016.
Below is a timeline of events pertaining to this story.
February 12, 2016 – A text message conversation was held between several Lexington Catholic High School football team members about turning in money from their “Lift-a-Thon’’ fundraiser. Mid-stream, the name of the text conversation was changed by a teammate and re-titled “Damarco I’m gonna lynch you’’.
The bully said these and other things in the group text:
“Damarco lynch means I’m gonna hang you bc you’re black and I just might’’
“your mom is on an episode of Maury bc u don’t know your real dad’’
“I don’t care if you steal it or sell crack just get the f***ing money’’
“damarco I’ll hire you to pick my cotton $1 per week’’
“turn in your welfare check; Food stamps accepted’’
March 7, 2016 – The victim’s mother, Denisha Vinegar, discovers the group text messages on his laptop. Ms. Vinegar shows the texts to her brothers.
One brother immediately sends photos of the football teams text exchange to Coach Mark Perry beginning at 7:18 p.m.
Perry replies that he will give the photos to the Vice Principal “who will deal with this in the morning.”
March 8, 2016 – Another brother of Ms. Vinegar goes to Lexington Catholic to speak with principal Sally Stevens. He delivers hard copies of the text messages to Stevens and recorded his 40-minute conversation with her about the bullying students conduct. Time and location stamping of audio show 8:18 a.m.
March 9, 2016 – Ms. Vinegar has not been contacted by school officials even though her brother can be heard in the audio explicitly instructing the principal to follow up with her. Ms. Vinegar calls the police to make a report. Her son’s laptop and the messages are inspected as part of the investigation.
March 15, 2016 – After several conversations, but no resolution, Ms. Vinegar withdraws her son from Lexington Catholic after the school fails to satisfy her concern for her son’s safety. Ms. Vinegar said that after her son had been put in meetings where he felt intimidated, he divulged to her that he was threatened after school to be lynched with a chain by the same student who also said that he could spit in her son’s face in front of the coach and nothing would be done to him. When she signs the form to withdraw her son, she is told by a staff member that his transcripts will not be released until she pays a $4000 bill.
April 6, 2016 – Almost one month after school officials were notified of the text messages, the exclusive report of the lynching threats was published on The Key Newsjournal website, www.lextown.info.
April 7, 2016 – MORNING – In response to the article, The Diocese of Lexington releases a statement condemning racism. “The Diocese of Lexington will not tolerate racism in any of its institutions or ministries and will work to root out remnants of racist attitudes and thinking wherever it is encountered.”
April 7, 2016 – AFTERNOON – It is announced that the victims mother hired Washington, D.C. based Atty. Amos Jones to represent her family and releases a statement, which said in part, “The Vinegar Family is appreciative of the thoughts and prayers that have flowed forth following the recent reports of the racist threats to lynch a minor in our family.’’
April 7, 2016 – EVENING – The other teens parents are contacted and he is brought in for questioning. According to Lexington Police the 17-year-old male was charged with Harassing Communications and Terroristic Threatening 3rd degree, which are Class A and B misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in county or local jail.
April 8, 2016 – LCHS President issues a statement that the student has been suspended and Dr. Roger Cleveland will work with them providing short-term counsel, ongoing training and workshops. Cleveland said later, he was in touch with the President but was not currently under contract.
April 13, 2016 – A second Black parent retains Atty. Amos Jones and starts the process of withdrawing their child from Lexington Catholic amid racial tensions, threats and feelings of intimidation.
April 15, 2016 – Three Caucasian females, all former LCHS students, who reported sexual harassment or assault retained Amos Jones as counsel claiming to have had their compaints ignored by school or Diocese.
The Key Newsjournal will continue to follow this story.
Patrice Muhammad, firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter: @patricemuhammad
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