Montgomery Co. teen double-victim of bullying

August 18, 2011

A Montgomery County teenager knows first-hand how bad it can be. She is a double victim, after first being assaulted physically and then emotionally by her classmates.

Studies show that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years. But with e-mailing and texting, bullying has reached a more disturbing level.

For one teenager, the taunting and harassment has been constant and especially vicious.

"I never thought my best friends would go against me," said Beatrice Culbertson.

16-year old Beatrice Culbertson is talking about the horrible bullying she's been living with for nearly two years. It follows what she says was the worst day of her life.

Beatrice was raped by two classmates last year.

"I definitely trusted them, and they betrayed me," said Beatrice.

She says she thought she and a friend were going to hang out with two teen boys. Instead they took her to a Lansdale alley as she texted the friend left behind.

"I texted her, and I said, 'they're taking me', and that's when the one boy started touching me, and I said, 'they're raping me,'" Beatrice said.

The text messages were introduced into evidence in juvenile court, but Beatrice and her family never expected what happened next.

"Girls that I really thought were my good friends, turned on me immediately. The same with the boys," Beatrice said.

She received a barrage of hateful emails, texts, and phone calls from classmates; angry that she reported the assault to the police.

"Once the charges were actually pressed against the boys, that's when it got really bad," said Beatrice. "That's when I started getting death threats."

"It blew my mind," said Randy Culbertson, "because she was never short on friends."

Beatrice's dad still gets emotional at the thought of what his daughter has endured.

"I can't explain it," Randy said.

While out on bail, one of Beatrice's alleged attackers was allowed to return to school. She tried to go back as well, but couldn't stay.

"The promised me he would not have contact with me, I wouldn't see him, and I saw him every single day," said Beatrice. "My older sister had to see him every single day."

Beatrice's older sister, a sophomore at the time, was also taunted and bullied.

"I wasn't expecting so many people to hate us," said Schyler Culbertson.

The Culbertson's say the school told them Beatrice's attacker had a legal right to an education, while engaged in due process, and offered to send her to Northbridge, the alternative school.

"I actually did the right thing, and they wanted to send me to a school with kids who break the rules," Beatrice said.

That's what disappointed her mother the most.

"The school, the school… nobody would listen. They really were not on her side at all," said Tina Culbertson.

The North Penn School District has issued a statement saying it's "working to ensure that appropriate attendance arrangements are made for the student victim for the upcoming school year."

Montgomery County, District Attorney, Risa Furman, was so struck by the level of cruelty in this case that she has reached out to the family.

"What she went through was horrific, but right now, as the new school year is starting, she and her siblings need to have a place where they can go and be safe," said Furman.

Beatrice's attackers pleaded guilty to sexual assault and were sentenced on July 20th.

17-year-old Tyreece Lewis and 19-year-old Robert Lee both were sentences to one to two years in prison.

Beatrice is beginning to get her life back, but the memories of the past two years continue to haunt her.

"I felt alone for a really long time for a really long time," said Beatrice. "I couldn't go out in public. Even now, people are ashamed to be my friend. People won't hang out with me."

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