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Boy sues school district over his arrest during clown scare

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Posted at 11:55 AM, Jul 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-13 12:28:23-04

A lawsuit alleges a 12-year-old Cincinnati boy was improperly arrested at school over clown-related threats.

The suit claims the boy was prosecuted for social media comments goading purported frightening clowns to visit his area as reports of such encounters swirled around the country last fall.

His parents seek unspecified damages in the federal suit against the Sycamore Community School District, an officer and prosecutors. They say his Instagram comments made no direct threats, yet authorities handcuffed, suspended and prosecuted him for causing public alarm and harassing the Instagram account's operator.

The suit challenges the constitutionality of the Ohio harassment law under which the boy's charged as a juvenile. The now-13-year-old denies the charges.

A Sycamore Community Schools spokeswoman said Thursday the district hasn't seen the lawsuit and isn't commenting.

Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office spokeswoman Julie Wilson said the prosecutor is reviewing the lawsuit and does not have any comment at this time.

LISTEN: Franklin woman calls police, says she was chased by clown near her home

Five students from Sycamore Junior High School and Sycamore High School were arrested this past September on charges of inducing panic. The students also faced disciplinary action following clown-related threats via the social media account Clown Clan, school district officials said at the time.

School officials said they knew it was a hoax and posed no danger to students or staff. They called Montgomery Police to investigate.

Social media "threats" of clowns caused a stir in several communities last fall, and many area police departments expressed the view that most of the "threats" were pranks played by bandwagoners.