HOUSTON COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - An East Texas student says he was called names and pushed around at school on a daily basis but one day, the bullying rose to another level after Hunter Bodine says he tripped and fell in gym class.
Instead of a teacher or students coming to see if he was okay, Hunter says a dozen or so of his classmates beat him up, and left him helpless on the floor. Hunter and his mother spoke exclusively to the East Texas News about that day.
Hunter Bodine said, "A school is a place where you're supposed to feel safe, you know that you're in a safe learning environment and I never in a million years would have thought something like that could happen."
Hunter Bodine says he was attacked by his classmates during gym class on February 10, 2011.
Hunter says the class started normally.
But as he was playing a game with other students, Hunter says he tripped and fell and Hunter says that is when the day changed for the worse.
"The kids around were playing a game called "neck", where you go around and slap somebody in the neck and then you yell it," said Hunter. "Well after I did that I started to fall and I fell on the floor."
This is surveillance video we obtained from inside the gym. Watch what happens after Hunter falls.
"About 10 or 12 kids came over to me and started kicking me and punching me," said Hunter.
The beating went on for nearly a minute and no one came to help Hunter. You see student after student run up to join in, punching and kicking. Finally the beating ends, and Hunter is left motionless on the floor, reportedly unconscious for some time, before anyone comes to see if he is okay.
Hunter says there was not a coach or a teacher in the gym supervising students while this went on.
"I'm speechless," said Hunter. "I just can't believe something like this could happen at a school."
Hunter's mom, Darlene Fike said, "The school didn't even notify me. I didn't find out until he came home from school that day."
Hunter says this beating is not an isolated incident. In fact, Hunter says being bullied was the norm.
Hunter said, "There was a lot of verbal going on before all this and there was some physical going on before this…there was stuff like I'd get called names, get pushed around get picked on, pinched, punched and stuff like that. It felt horrible. I felt like there was nothing I could do."
"There were some days I wouldn't even look forward to school because all this was happening," said Hunter.
Darlene says she is horrified by what happened to her son in gym that day and is determined to get justice.
"As a mother I was just at a loss for words and it was just horrible the worst thing you could ever imagine," said Darlene.
Darlene filed a lawsuit against the district, two coaches and several students allegedly involved in the beating. She says she is seeking damages for pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental anguish, loss of parental consortium and medical expenses.
The East Texas News reached out to Latexo ISD superintendent Don Elsom. He declined an on-camera interview but did issue a statement which says in part: "Latexo ISD takes every report of bully very seriously. We follow our bullying policy…in every instance of reported bullying. The incident you are referring to was handled in this manner and all appropriate action was taken by the district at the time of the incident."
The lawsuit claims that Coach Travis Miller was negligent in caring for Hunter. Miller is one of 11 defendants named in the suit. The document goes on to say: "Plaintiff's injuries were proximately caused by defendant Miller's negligent, careless and reckless disregard of said duty."
The lawsuit then describes the negligence as: "failing to properly and adequately supervise the children in the gym at the school as a reasonably prudent teacher would under the same or similar circumstance."
The superintendent wrote an email, separate from his statement, that Coach Miller is no longer employed with Latexo ISD.
The East Texas News also reached out to Miller's attorney for comment and the firm responded saying they filed an answer to the lawsuit denying the allegations in the suit which they believe are frivolous.
Hunter says even though it's been three years since the gym class incident, the bullying has not stopped but Hunter says the bullies are not as vigorous as they used to be.
"I think things are very slowly declining," said Hunter. "It's just some kids will mess with me about suing the school and stuff like that but as of the pinching and punching some of that won't happen because I've grown like twice the size I was, now."
"I've raised my son all of his life to always to be the friend to the kid who was being bullied, never thinking that it would happen to him and yet here we are and I don't want this to happen to another kid," said Darlene. "I wouldn't want any parent to go through this. It has been a nightmare"
Hunter says the new high school principal has made efforts to crack down on bullying but Hunter says he sees others students bullied every day.
"I feel horrible seeing it," said Hunter. "I would like for it all to stop. I try to help out kids so they don't get bullied because I know how it feels. I've been there and it's not something you want to go through."
Hunter says he has been suffering from periodic blackouts since that day and is seeking treatment. Hunter says he hopes the memories of this assault won't haunt him for the rest of his life.
The law firm representing Latexo ISD said the Anderson County District Judge dismissed the suit. Darlene Fike's attorney has since filed an appeal in the Tyler Court of Appeals and is awaiting a ruling.
Hunter's mother also tried to file criminal charges against the students that actually engaged in the beating, but the Houston County Attorney did not accept the cases for prosecution and said she could not discuss cases pertaining to juveniles.