top of page

Holding bullies accountable

Kenny Suttner's tragic case was the topic of an HBO documentary which asked "Can a person be criminally liable for someone else's suicide?"

Photo source: KOMU News

Here's my response to that HBO video which appears at the end of this article:

I found the documentarian's point-of-view to be one-sided to say the least focusing on the disruption to the person who is facing criminal manslaughter charges in association with Kenny's death rather on the enormous loss of Kenny's life.

It has been reported what the woman's intention was or was not regarding the conduct she reportedly directed toward 17 year old Kenny.

This I believe is faulty logic.

This is not where the focus should be.

In harassment cases the analysis is not on what the harasser intended, i.e. whether the harasser meant "no harm no foul" while engaging in sexual or racial harassment.

The focus is on how the conduct impacted the targeted victim of illegal harassment.

Read what our Supreme Court had to say about actionable sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the landmark Faragher v. City of Boca Raton case. The analysis focuses on how the victim was impacted not on the harasser's state of mind or intent:

Read full text here:

Similarly if someone drives drunk and kills an innocent person crossing the street it does not matter whether or not the drunken driver intended to kill that person. They will and should be held criminally liable in a court of law for their conduct.

The answer to the bullying problem in this country is not to evaluate whether the bullies meat to do harm or expect victims to put up with bullying, or to leave their jobs or transfer to another school in order to obtain relief.

We must not reinforce the bullying behavior by failing to hold bullies responsible for their past actions and then set them free to target another victim. Meantime, the rules and law abiding victim is required to seek other employment or transfer to another school. This is blatantly wrong on a macro and a micro level.

If the evidence demonstrates the employee or student bullied the victim, that person should be written up, suspended or dismissed.

If the evidence shows the bullying led to tragic results, the bully should be held criminally responsible.

Mr. Frank Flaspohler, Coroner who exercised his authority under Missouri law to conduct an inquest into Kenny's death.


Please read prior blogs entitled the Forensics of Bullying by psychologist Dr. Robert Tanenbaum here:

bottom of page