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A bullying incident on the cheerleading squad at West Milford High School in New Jersey nearly two years ago is still unresolved for the squad member who blew the whistle on her teammates. Brian Thompson reports.
A bullying incident on the cheerleading squad at West Milford High School in New Jersey nearly two years ago is still unresolved for the squad member who blew the whistle on her teammates.
Rachael Roykovich admitted to NBC New York she initially participated in teasing a teammate -- referred to here as Mary -- about being a lesbian, but soon realized it was wrong. Roykovich apologized.
"Mary never did anything to make the main girl think that she was a lesbian or wanted to start a relationship," Roykovich, now 17, said of the harassment back in February 2010.
But she said the bullying continued from three of their friends on the 22-member cheerleading squad, and even the intervention of Roykovich's mother, Rita, couldn't bring full resolution.
While the school's principal was able to mediate an end to the harassment between Mary and the other three girls, Roykovich said they soon turned on her and blamed her for bringing her mother into the picture.
Rita Roykovich said she started demanding the school administration intervene more forcefully to protect her daughter.
"That was all we wanted, was for this to end, and that never happened," Rita Roykovich said.
Sexually perverted descriptions of her daughter started showing up on the Internet, as did an altered picture of her showing orange skin and yellow teeth. At school, girls tormented Rachael Roykovich by following her in the hallways and snickering after her.
"The only thing I can say is, I have a really great boyfriend and I don't know where I'd be without him," said Rachael Roykovich. "He kind of was my bodyguard."
In a letter to the West Milford Board of Education, the principal argued that a letter of reprimand was not deserved, and that she had dealt directly with the bullying of both Mary and Rachael Roykovich.
But Rita Roykovich said she is not at all satisfied. She said her daughter is now ostracized at school by her former friends.
While she complained that the superintendent -- who has not responded to NBC New York's calls --has also been unresponsive, she got the attention of a federal agency: the Office of Civil Rights for the U.S. Education Department has opened an investigation into two of her complaints.
Mary, the original bullying victim, is back on the cheerleading squad and is friends again with the girls who harassed her.
Rachael Roykovich, the whistleblower, never returned to the team and is looking forward to restarting her school experience in college.