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Suit: Sandburg staff ignored team’s bullying

Updated: March 27, 2012 8:24AM



The family of a former Sandburg High School basketball player is suing the school, claiming their daughter was injured in practice by bullies who had harassed her and her sister for years. The girl suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and transferred out of state as a result, according to the lawsuit, filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court.

Kathleen Mulvey severed a tendon in her right foot in June 2009 when a teammate who had been bullying her pushed her from behind while she was making a layup at practice, the suit says. It says the bullying began when her older sister, Meghan, transferred to Sandburg as a junior from Providence High School and Kathleen entered as a freshman.

Sandburg girls basketball coach Chris Hellrung told the girls’ parents, Joseph Mulvey and Ellen Hogan-Mulvey, their daughters would be welcomed on the team, but other players immediately began bullying the sisters, and their parents told Hellrung that they worried a specific girl might injure one of their daughters, the suit says.

Hellrung assured the parents their daughters were safe, but two days later Kathleen was injured by the girl whom her parents had warned the coach about, according to the suit.

“As Kathleen writhed in pain, the girl stood over and glared at her, never offering any assistance...” the lawsuit said.

Hellrung told them it was an accident, the lawsuit says. Kathleen had surgury and underwent eight weeks physical therapy because of the injury.

The lawsuit claims the bullying later got worse, and Kathleen was diagnosed in April 2011 with post-traumatic stress disorder and was treated for depression. To escape the bullying, she transferred to a private school in Connecticut, the only school that would accept a senior transfer, the suit says.

The transfer cost her family $50,000, the suit says.

“(Sandburg) officials did nothing to stop the bullying. After three years, some half-hearted effort was made to stop the bullying, but school personnel seemed to work against the efforts to stop the bullying,” according to the lawsuit, which seeks more than $500,000 in damages.

Consolidated School District 230 Supt. James Gay did not return multiple messages left Friday. Hellrung and District 230 spokeswoman Carla Erdey declined comment.

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