The parents of Alianna DeFreeze, who was murdered in 2017, received a $1 million settlement from a wrongful death lawsuit that they filed against their daughter’s school, Breakthrough Charter Schools. The 14-year-old’s family claimed that the school could have prevented the young girl’s death if someone had notified her parents that she was missing.
After they settled their case, the parents’ lawyers released a statement and said, “Despite the incredible odds faced by Plaintiffs’ counsel, they were able to convince the settling Defendants (who still assert that they have no legal responsibility for the death of Alianna) to resolve this matter for a total of $1,000,000.00. This is a tremendous settlement based upon the facts and the current state of the law in the state of Ohio.”
Damon DeFreeze and Donnesha Cooper filed the wrongful death lawsuit in 2019 and said that on the morning of their daughter’s death, January 26, 2017, they never received notification from the school that their daughter didn’t show up for classes. They argued that it wasn’t like Alianna DeFreeze to skip school.
The lawsuit said the school, “utterly and without question breached a critical duty owed to each and every parent to provide notice of a missing child—no text messages, phone calls, emails or any other form of communication.”
In all, Alianna’s parents sued Breakthrough Charter Schools, Christopher Whitaker, the man who killed their daughter, the man who owned the abandoned house where her body was discovered, the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Friends of Breakthrough Schools and E Prep and Village Prep Woodland Hills.
The school would later allege that they sent Alianna DeFreeze’s mother a text, but the system malfunctioned before it could send.
“Defendants have tried to cover up their fatal inaction by claiming that they sent [Alianna’s mother] a message … notifying her of Alianna’s absence, but that the system malfunctioned. … Upon information and belief, defendants school system have lied about their action of sending a message,” said the lawsuit.
After the $1 million settlement, Fox News’ I-Team reached out to the former CEO of Breakthrough Charter Schools for a comment.
Alan Rosskamm said, “All of the parties reached a mutually agreed upon settlement agreement. We hope this can help bring some level of closure to all concerned. Although, our hearts will always go out to Alianna’s family and friends.”
According to reports, Alianna DeFreeze was murdered while she was walking to school in the morning. The 14-year-old was lured into an abandoned house by sex offender Christopher Whitaker. The Ohio man raped, tortured, and then killed the young girl. Her body was found three days later.
A medical examiner said that the 14-year-old’s injuries were so severe that he couldn’t determine her cause of death.
Christopher Whitaker was found guilty and given the death penalty for his crimes in 2018. The 45-year-old was charged with 10 counts, including kidnapping, rape, and aggravated murder. The defendant argued that he was high on crack cocaine during the killing, and he blacked out.
Prosecutors argued that the 45-year-old knew what he was doing. They said, “The evidence does not point to a drug-induced frenzy, does not point to a blackout,” assistant prosecutor Mahmoud Awadallah said in court in February. “It points to that he knows what he was doing.”
Christopher Whitaker later admitted to the murder.
He recently tried to appeal his death sentence in 2021. Alianna’s father, Damon DeFreeze, hopes that his daughter’s killer will get life in prison.
“I requested life in prison without the possibility of parole from the beginning because death is too certain, too quick,” DeFreeze said. “You deserve to suffer and sit there and think about what you.” did.’
After Aliana DeFreeze’s death, her family started the “Alianna DeFreeze Let’s Make a Change,” foundation, which is a nonprofit that supports low-income families. The state of Ohio also passed Alianna’s Alert, which is a state law requiring schools to notify parents within two hours if their child doesn’t arrive at school.