Teacher Sues Over Evil Teddy Bear Film

generic evil teddy bear child toy CBS/iStockphoto

A math teacher whose name is used in a student film featuring an evil teddy bear that orders other stuffed animals to kill a teacher is suing the four children who made it, alleging it defamed him.

Daniel Clevenger's lawsuit, filed May 16 in Henry Superior Court, is the second round of legal action related to the 78-minute film "The Teddy Bear Master." Two months ago, school officials settled a federal lawsuit filed by three of the students to fight their expulsion from Knightstown Intermediate School.

The lawsuit claims the film mocked the teacher's appearance and mannerisms by portraying a math instructor named "Mr. Clevenger." It also contains "graphic depictions of violence" and the eventual murder of Clevenger and his wife, Christine, the lawsuit said.

"The defendants intentionally created the 'Teddy Bear Master' and intentionally used the plaintiff's name in such a way that would provoke a reasonably foreseeable emotional disturbance or trauma," the lawsuit states.

The boys worked on the movie from fall 2005 through summer 2006. A description of the film in previous documents said that the teddy bear ordered the stuffed animals to kill the teacher because he had embarrassed him, but that students battled the toy beasts.

Jackie Suess, an attorney for the ACLU of Indiana who represented one of the students during their federal lawsuit against the school, said the group would be representing at least one of the students again. Suess called the lawsuit's allegations misleading.

"It's not true that they were murdered in the movie," she said. "It was literally stuffed animals being manipulated by the boys, walking around going 'yeoowww' and talking in funny voices, very juvenile."

Christine Clevenger said deeply upset her.

"The only thing I can say is they have wronged my husband. He's a very good person, he is a wonderful teacher, he's a wonderful father and he's a wonderful husband," she said.

The lawsuit names students Isaac Imel, Harrison Null, Charlie Ours and Cody Overbay and their parents as defendants, and seeks unspecified punitive damages.

Last fall, Imel and Overbay sued the Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation on the grounds that the district about 35 miles east of Indianapolis had violated their First Amendment rights by expelling them. Ours later joined that federal lawsuit.

In March, school officials reached a settlement with Imel, Overbay and Ours that included a $69,000 settlement and required the students' suspensions and expulsions be expunged.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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