Chardon Shooting Victims’ Families Sue Over Benefit Funds

CHARDON – Relatives of three teenagers killed in a northeast Ohio school shooting filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a charity that maintains a trust fund set up first to benefit the victims’ families and also to support the well-being of students and others in the affected community.

The lawsuit against United Way says more than $950,000 was donated to the Chardon Healing Fund after the shooting in February 2012 at Chardon High School. The suit alleges the trust wasn’t properly administered and says the families of 16-year-olds Daniel Parmertor and Demetrius Hewlin and 17-year-old Russell King Jr. have received a total of less than $150,000 and have had funding requests denied.

“The ‘foremost’ purpose of the Trust, to benefit the families of the victims, has not been met,” the families argue in the lawsuit. They’re seeking an accounting of how the trust was administered and a ruling on whether that process was proper.

A statement Tuesday from United Way of Greater Cleveland and the United Way Services of Geauga County said the fund is managed transparently according to its purpose. More than $417,000 has been distributed to families of the three students killed and three others hurt in the shooting, but the spending specifics are private out of respect for the families’ privacy, the groups said.

The lawsuit also names the Geauga County Board of Mental Health and Recovery Services and alleges the trust set aside up to $250,000 to provide mental health services announced in a partnership with that agency.

The board’s executive director, Jim Adams, told The News-Herald in Willoughby that he hadn’t seen the lawsuit and that his agency doesn’t have a role in determining how the money from the fund is distributed.

The teenager convicted in the shooting, T.J. Lane, was sentenced to life in prison. He has appealed.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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