A Dairy Queen manager in Missouri was found guilty on Tuesday of involuntary manslaughter in the case of a former employee who committed suicide by gunshot to the head. 17-year-old Kenneth Suttner took his own life after suffering severe bullying at school and in the workplace. The workplace bullying, in specific, a jury found to be the fault of his manager, Harley Branham. A co-worker of Suttner's, Allison Bennett, testified on behalf of the prosecution that Branham had, in fact, publicly mistreated Suttner, and at one point has even tossed food at him after accusing him of preparing it improperly.
While on the witness stand, Branham stated that she did not feel like she was the main source of bullying on Suttner, stating on the record, "There's a lot of people at Dairy Queen saying I was the reason, but I don't understand why it would be that way." She did, however, admit to calling him an "a-hole," but stated that she intended it to be taken as a joke. She also testified that she believed Suttner to be taking her jokes "in stride."
The jury also found that Dairy Queen itself, as well as Suttner's school, were at least partially responsible for the teen's death, in that they feel the two entities didn't sufficiently have training and protocols in place to deal with severe bullying.
Dairy Queen did release a statement regarding the situation. "Our thoughts and prayers are with [Suttner's] family," They said, and followed with, "We are still in the process of gathering information."
The chain also made it known that the location where all this happened was a franchise store and not a corporate one, so Branham is not technically their employee. However, they stated that they'd been advised that she was no longer an employee at the restaurant.
Suttner's family did not comment, but speaking up for them, a friend of the family said that, "Kenny spent his life trying to tolerate negative words and actions."
Branham has been released on bond but is scheduled to be arraigned on Valentine's Day, February 14th. Speaking on her behalf, her attorney stated, "It's too premature to comment." And went to say that, "it's a tragic situation."0comments
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