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HOUSTON – A lawsuit filed by the family of a Conroe, Texas, teenager charges that Snapchat fails to monitor its social media platform for child sexual predators, which allowed the teen’s teacher to groom him for what police reports say was an inappropriate sexual relationship.
The lawsuit filed Feb. 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division also names the Conroe Independent School District and Oak Ridge High School science teacher Bonnie Guess-Mazock as defendants.
According to the lawsuit, Ms. Mazock used Snapchat to arrange private, off campus meetings with the student. The school district did not have any policies addressing social media communications between students and teachers.
“This boy’s school was his safe haven,” said attorney Derek Merman of the Heard Merman law firm, which represents the family. “He trusted his teachers and the staff around him. All of the parties failed him and must be held accountable.”
The lawsuit, police investigators and published reports detail how Ms. Mazock is accused of sending the teen seductive photos of herself and solicitous messages through Snapchat. The lawsuit alleges she provided the teen with money and prescription drugs and encouraged him to take the drugs prior to their encounters.
The student’s family discovered the relationship after he overdosed on prescription drugs, the lawsuit states. Police arrested Ms. Mazock in late January on a charge of indecency with a child. She posted a $100,000 bond and is out of jail.
The lawsuit further states that Snapchat’s design allows sexual predators to target underage children and accuses the company of monitoring content for its own financial gain, but not for the protection of its users. In addition to Snapchat, the school district is accused of failing to properly screen its employees and failing to train staff to recognize the signs of inappropriate activity between teachers and students. The lawsuit notes a history of incidents in which Conroe ISD employees have been accused of inappropriate activity with students.
“When you send your children to school you want to make sure they are not bullied” said attorney Andrea Kolski of the Non Stop Justice law firm and co-counsel on the case. “You want to make sure they are educated. You want to make sure they are happy. And of course, you want to protect them from their worst nightmare.”
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