Gavel

The mother of a former Huntland School student who was the victim of an on-campus bathroom incident where a nude video was recorded and later displayed on the internet is considering legal action against the offending boy’s parents.

The incident happened in May toward the end of the previous academic year, and the offending boy was suspended until the end of the 2020-21 school year.

However, Tia Stovall, the victim’s mother who was also the Huntland Middle School girls basketball head coach and the high school girls basketball assistant coach, has resigned from her position and has transferred her two children out of the Franklin County School System.

Stovall said Friday that the avenues taken were not satisfactory, and her son has been damaged by the actions against him. She said she feared her son might commit suicide due to the embarrassment of video being circulated.

Stovall said she wanted the offending boy’s parents to punish their child for what was done to discourage others from taking similarly harmful actions.

However, she said the parents have done nothing, and her child has suffered from what was done to him.

She said steps were taken to prosecute the offending boy, but the circumstances fell into a gray area of the law.

Stovall said she talked to Assistant District Attorney Courtney Lynch who said the law on recording photos or videos of someone in a private location without consent specifies that, in addition to action taken to embarrass the victim, the perpetrator must also strive to achieve sexual gratification through their actions.

Lynch was quoted in a WSMV Nashville TV report saying that the latter didn’t apply in this case, and prosecution couldn’t occur because the law says “and” instead of “or,” meaning both conditions are required to proceed with prosecution.

Stovall referred to the sexual-gratification clause in the law and said the offending boy had spread the video and was laughing about it, which was a form of gratification to him. She added that the type of gratification is, nonetheless, harmful and should result in prosecution.

Stovall said she’s been in contact with Sen. Bowling, R-Tullahoma, and Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, and they are looking into changing the law so that prosecution in similar cases could occur.

WSMV reported that Rudder said she plans to introduce legislation to change the law in the General Assembly’s upcoming legislative session.

Rudder said Monday she will begin the process this week to have the Legislature change the law with recommendations being made at the committee level. She added that the goal is to change the wording in the law from “and” to “or” so that punitive action could be taken that hasn’t been allowed.

She said the law needs to be punitive but have leeway in how strict it is so that a teenager who made a bad judgment call won’t have their lives ruined because of it.

Director of Schools Stanley Bean said the School System’s policy allows suspension for up to a year or time in alternative school, but the incident occurred toward the end of the school year.

Stovall said, in essence, the suspension lasted about a week, which isn’t enough.

She said she had approached the offending boy’s parents on a Saturday, a day after she found out about the incident. She added that the parents didn’t check their son’s cellphone and denied that he had done anything.

Stovall said that in addition to her son being emotionally harmed, she has been battling breast cancer, and the circumstances have made dealing with the incident that much more difficult.