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Dietrich in Crisis: 'A Pervasive Threat Has Forced People to Leave Town'


  • Dietrich High School

The headline in this morning's Twin Falls Times-News reads, "Town in Crisis."

That's not sensationalism; it's fact.

The Lincoln County community of Dietrich, population 335, is now known across the world as the town where three high-school boys are accused of taunting, harassing, abusing and causing horrific harm to a fellow student. As a result, federal law enforcement is mulling involvement in the case, which has already seen three teenagers, two charged as adults, accused in an incident investigators said included the attackers jamming a coat hanger into a boy's rectum. 

A $10 million lawsuit has now been launched against a number of individuals, including the principal of Dietrich High School, the school superintendent, five school board members and four football coaches, claiming they were "aware of, or should have been aware of, numerous incidents in which the plaintiff (a black male) was subject to severe and pervasive harassment, racial discrimination, mental and physical assault and battery culminating in a vicious anal rape of the plaintiff by several white male students."

Lincoln County Sheriff's Sergeant Andy McClure insists that, "There is no prejudice in Dietrich. What happened here is not a reflection of the community," he told the Times-News.

But at least one neighbor says, at the very least, a pervasive threat has forced some people to leave the town. "Bullying is an issue in every school. I know people who have left town because of it." She added, "This is the time when charges need to be pressed."

The alleged victim is reportedly the adopted son of a teacher at Dietrich High School, who came under fire in 2013 when a few parents were upset that he had used the words "vagina" and "orgasm" while teaching the human reproductive system in a 10th grade biology course. Nine months later, the teacher was given the all-clear from the Idaho Department of Education's teacher ethics commission. Earlier this year, the teacher, Tim McDaniel, told the Times-News he had stopped attending school basketball games and church because he was increasingly "uncomfortable around other people, something that was never a problem before."

But on May 26, McDaniel told the Times-News, "I've lived here 21 years. I've never felt like more of an outsider than I do right now," adding that his family was looking for a home in another city.

Meanwhile, officials decided to shut down the school year one day early May 26, due to what they said were a number of threats. The local sheriff's office said it had turned over information regarding the threats to the FBI.