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New Jersey district will pay $625,000 to family of bullying victim who committed suicide

Feb. 23, 2018
Lennon Varnelas Baldwin, a freshman at Morristown High School, killed himself in 2012 after being bullied by classmates.

The mother of a 15-year-old New Jersey student who died by suicide in 2012 after being bullied has settled a $625,000 lawsuit brought against the school district.  

The Morristown Daily Record reports that the Morris (N.J.) School Board has approved a settlement agreement with Sharon Varnelas, the mother of Lennon Varnelas Baldwin.

Lennon was a freshman at Morristown High School in March 2012 when he hanged himself in his home after three classmates robbed and bullied him.

The settlement is covered by the district's insurance carrier.

The lawsuit accused Morristown High School of failing to protect Lennon or enforce anti-bullying policies. It alleged the school was aware of "a propensity for violence" on the part of the three students who bullied Lennon.

Lennon was described in his obituary as an accomplished musician at drums and guitar, a skier and champion bowler. 

"What Lennon really wanted was to be loved, respected and accepted by his peers," the obituary read. "Now Lennon is finally at peace."

The assault on Lennon was recorded on surveillance cameras inside the school, reports show.

In February 2013, the oldest of the three accused pleaded guilty to obstruction for lying to police when he told them he was not present when Baldwin was robbed. He received a sentence of probation.

The other two accused pleaded guilty in the family division of the Superior Court. They received probation and 20 days on a manual labor program, records show.

One of the teens admitted kicking Lennon in the groin in a school corridor on March 6, 2012, a few weeks before the teen's suicide. Another teen admitted stealing $60 from Baldwin.

At the family court hearing in 2012, Sharon Varnelas and John Baldwin told the judge they believe their son killed himself out of fear.

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