An explosive new lawsuit asserts that two principals at a Delaware high school utilised a surveillance camera image of a student’s breast to make a meme that they distributed to other staff members.
Aniya Harmon, a former student at Sussex Central High School, expressed her disappointment, hurt, and uproar over the alleged occurrence to NBC News.
In an apparent reference to the infamous 2004 Super Bowl incident in which Justin Timberlake exposed the singer’s breast during the halftime show, Harmon’s family is suing the school’s principal Bradley Layfield and assistant principal Matthew Jones over an alleged meme that replaced the student’s face with Janet Jackson’s.
The case, which was submitted this month in Delaware State Court, claims that Harmon was present at an event in May when she saw a boy and a girl student fighting in the hallway. The lawsuit claims that after Harmon confronted the agitated female involved in the fight, the other student “attacked” Harmon. Then a school official intervened and dragged Harmon away from the argument, which is said to have caused a portion of her clothing to split open and reveal one of her breasts.
According to the lawsuit, the two administrators afterwards sent the video to other staff members without obliterating the student’s breast and used it to make the meme and demonstrate to other school personnel. The lawsuit asserts that at least six additional parties had access to the student’s breast image.
According to Harmon’s lawyer Emeka Igwe, the case “alleges invasion of privacy, civil conspiracy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
Harmon’s mother, Tosha White, told NBC News that the meme allegedly became known in the neighbourhood a few days after the incident.
“I didn’t have any proof that it was my daughter, but all of the facts started to add up,” White said.
Eight days later, the assistant superintendent of the district allegedly called White and requested her to schedule a meeting, but she was never told what the meeting would be about. White decided to hire a lawyer instead. White and her lawyer told NBC News that by that point Layfield and Jones had both been placed on administrative leave. The school’s website still lists both of them as employees.
In response to a Fox News request for comment, representatives of Sussex Central High School sent the inquiry to the Indian River School District. According to a representative for the Indian River School District, the organisation “does not comment on pending litigation.” The district and the school are also included in the case.
A Fox News request for comment was not immediately answered by Jones or Layfield. Thomas S. Neuberger, the lawyer for Layfield, told Fox News Digital that his client had “no involvement with” the meme’s purported creation and that Jones instead created the image independently of Layfield and without Layfield’s knowledge.
Neuberger claims that Layfield showed the video of the altercation to numerous others, including state police officers stationed at the school. The attorney said that despite Harmon’s breast being seen in the video, Layfield was unaware of it because the camera was placed some distance away from the scene of the incident. Instead, Neuberger claimed, Layfield was going through the motions of looking into the altercation, and it wasn’t until much later that Jones is reported to have developed the bogus image.
“This looks to be a shakedown designed to force money from the school district,” Neuberger told Fox News Digital.