The defense attorney for the mother of a 13-year-old girl believed to have died of starvation called the charges against his client “absurd” on Tuesday. She faces a custody hearing after being charged with gross negligence in caring for her daughter.
The emaciated teenager reportedly had a history of eating disorders and also was bullied in both elementary and junior high school. Her death late last week set off memorials and mourning at the school she attended in Lommedalen, west of Oslo. By Tuesday, however, the girl’s fellow pupils were being at least partially blamed on social media for contributing to her death. Several social media commentators have claimed the bullying killed her, prompting some outraged parents to contact UNICEF in Norway for help. “It’s very serious when children are being accused of being murderers,” Kristin Oudmayer of UNICEF Norge told state broadcaster NRK.
Aasmund Olav Sandland, defense attorney, claimed that the girl’s mother “did everything she could to help her daughter.” He told NRK that she says the 13-year-old suddenly collapsed on New Year’s Eve at the family’s hytte at Beitostølen in the mountains of Valdres. The mother and her daughter had been staying there since the 13-year-old was taken out of school in Lommedalen in September.
Sandland confirmed that his client’s daughter had been bullied over the past four years, and that it had resumed when she began the new school year at the Mølladammen junior high school in Lommedalen in August. He tied her eating disorder to the bullying.
The girl did not return to the school after the week-long autumn holiday in September. The mother was reported to Norway’s child protective services Barnevernet without any action being taken.
“Her mother is in despair,” Sandland told NRK. “She has done what she could to get help from state agencies and reported the bullying to the school on several occasions.” He doesn’t think his client was strong enough to undergo questioning. Her custody hearing was set for Wednesday.