A high school teacher from central Israel
is suing a former student whose prank, she says, left her emotionally scarred for life.
The incident occurred three years ago, when the high school student decided to mount a senior prank that he claims was lighthearted. Applauded by his classmates, the teen gradually stripped to his underwear in the middle of class, while dancing to the tunes of a song blaring from a boom box.
The teacher's name was written on his chest next to the words "I've been a bad boy," and he was wearing tight boxer briefs, she said.
The teacher recalled she wanted to exit the classroom but the door was blocked by students who cheered the teen on and even filmed him. She tried to hide behind a desk but he followed her around and continued to rub up against her even after she tried to push him away.
"I told myself, 'just don't cry,'" she said. "I felt I had nowhere to run."
The five-minute striptease session has left her traumatized. She suffered an emotional breakdown, spiraled into depression and had to seek therapy. Her doctors ordered her to quit teaching. The National Insurance Institute branded the case as a workplace accident and determined she had suffered a permanent emotional disability.
"The students told me to take it easy," she said. "(The teen) came up to me afterwards and said it was a joke, but I didn't feel that way."
Three years later, she is suing the former student, his parents, the school's principal and the Education Ministry for NIS 1.5 million (roughly $395,000).
The young man, now an IDF soldier, was considered a good student and whose disciplinary record up to that point was clean. He apologized after the fact and said he never sought to humiliate the teacher.
In his reponse to the lawsuit he denied wearing tight underwear and rubbing up against the teacher. He said his movements weren't at all provocative like the teacher claimed and that he never approached her, stressing that he stayed away from her and danced while facing his classmates.
According to the teacher, who is in her 40s, the principal at the prestigious central Israeli school initially treated the incident as sexual harassment, but then drastically changed her approach. She claimed the school and the Education Ministry viewed the incident as a prank and let it go.
The woman claims the school refused to launch an investigation or to punish all the students in the class, who encouraged the teen and were said to have been involved in the planning of the prank. The school's female principal told the teacher "to get over it. It's no big deal. Anyone else would have taken it as a compliment."
The teacher filed a complaint with the police but the case was later closed. She now has trouble finding a job and has to subsist on a disability pension.
The other defendants in the case also denied the charges. The school said the student was suspended, was required to perform community service, was prohibited from attending the annual class trip and had to seek therapy.
The parents claim that the teacher is exploiting their son's prank to allow her to retire early.
Adva Cohen contributed to the report