Mother blames bullying; may need surgery

A photo of Clara, shared on Facebook by her aunt, shows the injuries that she sustained after being beaten earlier this month.

A local 13-year-old girl says that she is recovering after she was beaten by another juvenile girl earlier this month.

The victim’s mother, Lila Kaufman, gave the Gazette Record permission to publish her daughter’s name. She said that her daughter Clara’s story needs to be heard by the community.

She said that her daughter’s injuries are a result of a bullying issue in St. Maries.

“Our community needs to be aware of what’s going on with our children,” Ms. Kaufman said. “I feel for my poor daughter who is going through this.”

“Clara isn’t the only kid dealing with bullying,” Ms. Kaufman said. “We need to make St. Maries aware that there is bullying in this town.”

Clara said that allegedly she and her brother had been harassed throughout the summer. Ms. Kaufman said that she knew something was up as her daughter’s behavior had changed.

“She hardly did any of the things that she normally does in the summer like go to Aqua Park or the pool,” Ms. Kaufman said. “She hasn’t gone because she’s afraid of those girls.”

“I was pretty scared after they started harassing me and threatening me,” Clara said. “It was a hassle to go anywhere this summer.”

Clara said that she had been confronted and beaten once in August and again in September. She said that she didn’t tell anyone about the first incident because she didn’t know what to do at the time.

Clara was left with a fractured nasal cavity, a swollen eye, and doctor’s told Ms. Kaufman that her daughter has a piece of chipped bone particle in her face.

“I had to take Clara to an eye doctor because the ER doctor in St. Maries said he was worried about it,” Ms. Kaufman said. “Everything is looking fine with her eye. She may need surgery to fix her nasal cavity though.”

She said that after having to be treated at the hospital after the most recent beating, that she is doing better.

“I’m doing a lot better now,” Clara said. “I’m afraid to go to high school next year. Going forward its scary but I know I have a lot of people who back me up.”

“Clara should not be afraid to go to school,” Ms. Kaufman said. “We just want Clara to be the happy and smart kid we know.”

Clara said that the bullying allegedly started after the juvenile girls who beat her hung out with her in the early summer and left items at Clara’s fathers house. Clara said that her father lives outside of St. Maries and that she was unable to get the girl’s belongings returned.

She said that they allegedly started to accuse her of stealing and started to further harass her after she did not return the items by a certain date. Clara said that she tried to contact her aunt to box the items up but from there the situation was out of her control.

“My aunt had gone over there (Clara’s dad’s house) and boxed their stuff up,” Clara said. “I don’t know what she did after that and I tried to tell those girls multiple times.”

Over 100 community members stepped up to donate to a fund on social media to help Ms. Kaufman pay for Clara’s medical bills and lawyer fees. Other outside sources also stepped up to support Clara.

Brandon and Sam Taylor, the owners of Rize Gaming located in the Pines Motel Mall, said that Clara and her brother often frequent their store and were shocked to hear about what happened.

“We noticed that we had only really seen her brother over the summer,” Mr. Taylor said. “He told us what happened and we were upset.”

Now the two have put together a fundraising effort of their own to further help Clara and her family. Mr. Taylor said that from Tuesday, September 29, to Saturday, October 3, 50 percent of their sales would go towards a fundraiser for Clara.

“We don’t tolerate bullying in this community,” Mr. Taylor said. “You see these kids come in here and watch them grow and they are like family.”

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