UPDATE: Teen of residence where alleged assault took place questions victim’s story

By Brandon Klein - bklein@civitasmedia.com

Editor’s note: Janet Lugo, 15, of Galion was charged with delinquency charges of felonious assault in Crawford County Juvenile Court along with two other girls. This story was updated to reflect the new information.

The family of the private residence where a Galion sophomore was assaulted, before being taken by medical helicopter to a Columbus hospital last week, are challenging her victim status.

The 16-year-old girl was videotaped fighting two to three girls outside of the home in the 220 block of E. Payne Ave. The assault was cheered on by about a dozen bystanders. The victim reportedly has a torn liver, a torn spleen and cracked ribs.

But Paula Brandt, who lives at the residence where the fight occurred, said she and her mother were asleep at the time when the incident happened Wednesday night because she works the late shift at the hospital. Her grandson, a Galion student, witnessed the fight unfold.

Brandt said multiple people – including her grandson – informed her that the sophomore is a bully at school and on social media.

Her grandson issued a 500-word statement on Facebook to “make something clear” about the fight. The sophomore did not like Janet Lugo “over a boy” but that was not the cause of the altercation.

“[The sophomore] has bullied and harassed Janet and multiple other ‘victims’ since she has came to Galion Schools,” he said. “[The sophomore] has been pressuring Janet into fighting her.”

“[The sophomore] states that my friends have bullied her even though she has done many disrespectful things such as: making fun of Janet for not having a father figure, [one girl] for her father passing away, another girl for being adopted, and also telling one of her old friends that she wished she would go kill herself.”

“I’m not saying the situation is OK,” he continued. “But for [the sophomore] to come off as a victim in this situation is not the truth.”

The grandson said the sophomore drove to his house on Wednesday, waiting “45 minutes” with a friend to fight Janet, who was expected to visit the Brandt residence because her boyfriend hangs out with the grandson after school.

“She claims that she came here to stick up for her friend but was jumped by three much bigger girls,” he said. “[The sophomore] came here with one intention, and that was to fight Janet.”

“When Janet arrived [the sophomore] began saying things to [her] such as ‘You going to just stand there?’,” he said. “The two girls both began fighting and punching each other, but it was completely consensual between both of them.”

During the fight, two “noticeably bigger” other girls jumped in, Brandt’s grandson said.

“To be honest, everyone was completely unaware that that was those two girls’ intentions,” he said. “After the two girls jumped in and everyone had chance to process what was happening, multiple others did try to pull them off of [the sophomore]. All girls stopped fighting.”

The fight would have ended there, but Brandt’s grandson said the sophomore “started charging back” at Janet, which lengthened the fight.

“When [the sophomore] said she was done, Janet stopped, and that was the end of it,” he said. “I’m not saying I agree with this situation but this is what really happened. I regret allowing this to go own (sic) at my house, but it began out of my control. I just have to say; [the sophomore] maybe (sic) physically hurt but I can say that others are emotionally hurt, and that’s not something that just heals.”

Bill Baker, spokesman for the family, said he didn’t want to get into a “he said, she said” situation.

“We want to wait until the investigation is completed,” he said. “There’s a community responsibility here. Parents aren’t paying attention to what’s going on with their kids. Kids have the wrong impression that violence is OK and if you get Facebook likes, you’re more popular than somebody else. I don’t know the mentality behind it, but it’s dangerous.”

By Brandon Klein


Reach Klein at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

Reach Klein at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.