The family of a New Jersey girl who died by suicide last year after a video of her being assaulted was posted online is now suing school officials, alleging that administrators failed to protect the teen despite being aware of a “culture of violence.”
The lawsuit claims that even before 14-year-old Adriana Kuch was attacked in a hallway at New Jersey’s Central Regional High School on Feb. 1, 2023, a “climate of harassment, intimidation, and bullying” existed at the school. Kuch was found dead in her home two days after the incident.
Her family’s lawyers said in a statement that the attack and the video of it being shared online “led to her public humiliation and ultimate suicide.” Four students have been criminally charged in connection with the assault, while Adriana’s death itself triggered walkouts from students protesting the district’s alleged lack of action in addressing bullying.
Triantafillos Parlapanides, the district superintendent, ultimately resigned after initially saying police were not called over the attack on Adriana because school officials didn’t want her assailants to face a “double whammy” of possible discipline from both the school and law enforcement.
The lawsuit also alleges that Parlapanides defamed Adriana’s father, Michael Kuch, on the day of her funeral. “Superintendent Parlapanides publicly and falsely attributed Adriana’s death to her father having an affair (which the superintendent fabricated) that led to Adriana’s mother’s suicide, and he commented that her father now had to eat a ‘shit sandwich’ given the circumstances he was facing,” the family lawyers said.
In his own statement, Michael Kuch expressed his pain about the alleged lack of accountability for his daughter’s death. “Adriana was the light of our lives, and one year after her horrific and needless death, we are still waiting for justice,” he said. Kuch claimed it’s “clear this school has a serious bullying problem that none of the school administrators care to admit or address.”
“But what’s more troublesome and hurtful are the incredibly rude and insensitive comments from Superintendent Parlapanides when our family was at its lowest point,” he added. “How someone could make such false and careless remarks when our daughter had just died is beyond me.”
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing or texting 988.