Melanie Bowers with her ‘protest sign’
A 13-year-old East Texas girl who claimed Hispanic schoolmates attacked and beat her in response to an anti-illegals sign she made for a history class now has been accused of filing a false report.
The parents of Melanie Bowers, a student at Athens Middle School in Athens, about 70 miles southwest of Dallas, reportedly have apologized to school administrators, according to KTLV-TV in Tyler, Texas.
Fred Hayes, superintendent of the Athens Independent School District, which filed the charges against Bowers, said three boys did rip the sign out of the girl’s hand, reported KDFW-TV in Dallas.
But a review of school surveillance video showed Bowers injuring herself, scratching her arms and face.
Along with pursuing charges against Bowers, the boys also will be punished, Hayes said.
The parents have signed a letter of apology for the false accusations, according to the superintendent.
Melanie Bowers, an eighth grader, was among the students asked by history teacher Janet Skelton last week to make “protest signs” that dealt with a past issue and a current one.
Bowers’ sign read: “If you love your nation, stop illegal immigration.”
She claimed that Friday a group of students attacked her in a school hallway, slamming her head into a brick wall and scraping her face down the side of the wall.
The students, she said, then attempted to drag her into a boy’s restroom, threatened to “rape and kill” her, then tore up the sign.
The 13-year-old previously told KDFW she was not sexually assaulted but was punched, scratched and stabbed with a pen.
“They picked me up, and they tried to put me in the boys’ bathroom, and they said they were about to rape me,” she said. “And I just started screaming and yelling, and I was, like, ‘Leave me alone! Leave me alone! Leave me alone!'”
KDFW reported three Hispanic students were serving “in-school suspensions,” and school officials were considering punishing two other students.
Melanie Bowers had told KDFW that flyers titled “brown pride,” with her face crossed out, were passed out at school.
Her parents contacted the FBI and wanted to open a federal hate crimes investigation, the TV station said.
“She’s upset, first and foremost, because she didn’t feel like she had any reason to be attacked,” J.R. Bowers told the Associated Press. “She loves going to school. We’re having to keep her out because we’re scared for her.”
The girl’s mother, Shera Bowers, said her daughter was checked out by a paramedic Saturday, suffering a swollen face, various scratches and bruises.
J.R. Bowers said his daughter identified 21 students involved in the attack – 17 boys and four girls – by using a yearbook.