A Pennsylvania high school student is lashing back at his school district with a lawsuit after he was suspended for having consensual sex with his then-girlfriend during a school trip to Morocco last spring.
Anders Hemdal, now a junior at Schuylkill Valley High School in Leesport, says he was unfairly punished by administrators even though another student had secretly recorded his hotel room rendezvous and showed it to others.
In a civil rights suit filed Thursday in federal court, Hemdal, 16, claims defamation, privacy invasion and emotional distress, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
He’s seeking more than $75,000 in damages and wants the incident to be purged from his records.
“He’s the victim. He self-reported this. And now you’re going to suspend him?” family lawyer Joshua Prince said Monday. “He didn’t cause the criminality to occur.”
Hemdal says he was entitled to a disciplinary hearing but was suspended for four days for “disorderly conduct,” although school code bans sexual activity only on school property, according to the suit.
It’s also legal for Pennsylvania minors within four years of age of one another to have consensual sex, the Reading Eagle reported.
Hemdal and his unnamed girlfriend of two years were on a Spanish club trip to Spain and Morocco from March 30 to April 8 when they decided to have sex.
Hemdal, a sophomore at the time, said there was a form that acknowledged “participants in the trip who had sexual conduct could be sent home,” but no other disciplinary action was mentioned, according to the Courthouse News Service.
It’s unclear how the third student involved, identified as J.H. in court papers, managed to allegedly record a sex video.
About a week after the trip, a parent told Hemdal’s parents about the secret video, which prompted the family to tell the school.
Administrators decided to suspend Hemdal, his then-girlfriend and J.H.
Hemdal was also upset that he was identified by name when school employees were told about the video.
Superintendent Warren Mata, of the Schuylkill Valley School District, declined to comment Monday, saying the district hadn’t seen the suit.
Hemdal’s parents said the incident was more than a prank and required the family to seek counseling.
Hemdal’s father, Niklas, is a former school board member and former mayor of Leesport.
“It was devastating for all of us,” his mother, Stephanie Hemdal, told the Inquirer. “We had many meetings with the girlfriend’s family to talk about what we were going to do and how we would support our children through this. Our primary concern was their emotional health.”