A 13-year-old girl from Illinois whose photos showing her bloodied and bruised face following an attack by a bully went viral last month has broken her silence, telling the True Crime Daily podcast that she does not think her tormentor should be allowed back in school after receiving just a three-day suspension.
The images of Charlee Funes’ badly scraped and bleeding face shocked the nation in mid-May after her older brother shared them on Facebook as part of a lengthy post describing his younger sibling’s months-long struggle with a bully. As of Monday, that post has been shared more than 520,000 times.
‘She’s a 7th grader with the biggest heart in the world,’ Maxwell Kranz wrote at the time. ‘She did not deserve this.’
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Charlee Funes, a 13-year-old seventh-grader from suburban Chicago, was body-slammed during gym class on May 13. The attack left her bloodied and bruised (left and right)
Funes and her mom, Kimberly Funes (bottom row), sat down for their first national interview on the True Crime Daily podcast on Friday to talk about bullying
On Friday, Funes, a soft-spoken seventh-grader, and her mother, Kimberly Funes, sat down for their first national interview with Ana Garcia, the host of True Crime Daily podcast, and private investigator Luis Bolano, to talk about the torment she had endured at Gardner Grade School in Grundy County, Illinois, leading up to last month’s violent attack.
Mom Kimberly said a classmate of Charlee’s had begun picking on the seventh-grader months ago by pulling her hair, occasionally hitting her and calling her foul names.
Kimberly said at first, the other girl had tried to bully Charlee’s friend, who has spina bifida, but when her efforts failed she focused her malice on Charlee.
Asked why she thinks the girl has been abusing her, Funes said: ‘I think she’s jealous of me.’
The abuse escalated on May 13, when Funes says her tormentor came up behind her as she was running laps during gym class and body-slammed her with her chest.
Charlee’s ordeal went viral after her older brother posted an account of the attack and photos of her bruised face on Facebook in May (pictured)
Charlee said the same girl at Gardner Grade School in Grundy County, Illinois, has been bullying her for months, including pulling her hair and calling her names
Funes, pictured next to her mom, Kimberly, said she does not think her tormentor should be allowed back in school after a three-day suspension
‘The next thing I knew I was on the concrete,’ Funes told Garcia.
Funes, flanked by her mother, said her attacker later approached her and said of her injuries that ‘it’s not a big deal’ and that she will be ‘fine.’
A month later, Funes says she still struggles to talk because her teeth had been broken in the attack, and she is fearful of people who walk at a fast pace behind her.
Kimberly Funes said during the virtual interview that when she first set eyes on Charlee after the attack, she almost collapsed to her knees in shock.
She raced to the school, picked up her sobbing daughter and took her to the emergency, where a CT scan showed no damage to her brain.
Kimberly said when she spoke to sheriff’s deputies later that day, she was told that they had seen video of the attack and concluded that the body slam was intentional, but they said because the assailant was a 13-year-old girl, she was not likely to face any criminal charges.
A letter sent to parents by the Gardner Grade School District No. 72 in May said that officials worked with law enforcement and ‘took immediate action in response to the student who committed the misconduct.’
The letter continued: ‘the district takes all incidents of misconduct seriously and our student’s safety is always our first priority.’
Last Tuesday, Funes was surprised with a cornucopia of gifts from a local bullying prevention group and the Chicago Cubs. The baseball team sent the teen a letter of support
In the end, the student who allegedly attacked Funes was suspended from classes for three days, followed by remote learning for the rest of the school year.
Funes expressed concern about the prospect of having the girl who body-slammed her return to school for in-person learning next fall.
‘I think it would be fair if she wasn’t able to go to school anymore,’ she said. ‘I don’t think the [three]-day suspension was enough, and I don’t want her to have the privilege to come back to my school.’
Kimberly Funes said through tears she does not want anything bad to happen to the student who hurt her daughter, but she demands that some action be taken to prevent a future tragedy.
‘I believe this kid’s got problems,’ she said. ‘I believe [her] parents are no good… get her help. That’s all I want…. my daughter was lucky. The next one may not be lucky.’
Charlee is still recovering and dealing with serious dental problems in the wake of the attack.
Last Tuesday, she was surprised with a cornucopia of gifts from a local bullying prevention group and the Chicago Cubs, who sent her tickers to a Luke Bryant concert, a team jersey and a letter of support, which said in part: ‘you’re not alone, and we’re so proud of you,’ reported NBC Chicago.
A beaming Charlee said she is excited to have the baseball team on her side.