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Dairy Queen Manager Charged With Bullying Teen Employee Into Suicide

| Filed under: Legal MattersR.I.P.Sad SadTeensBullyingViral: News

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On December 21 of last year, Kenneth Suttner took his own life.

A Missouri coroner's jury ruled on Tuesday that the teen's suicide was caused by involuntary manslaughter — putting most of the blame on the teen's former Dairy Queen manager.

Harley Branham has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Suttner (above), who endured years of bullying at work and school until he fatally shot himself.

Related: Another Young Girl Broadcasted Suicide On Facebook Live

According to former co-workers who testified, Branham regularly bullied the 17-year-old while on the job — even forcing him to clean the floor by hand while lying on his stomach, and throwing a cheeseburger at him when he made it wrong.

The 21-year-old former manager denied harassing the teen, brushing off her actions as lighthearted jokes. While she admitted to calling him an "asshole" once, Branham said none of her insults were meant to demoralize him.

She told the Columbia Daily Tribune:

"There's a lot of people at Dairy Queen saying I was the reason [Suttner killed himself]. But I don't understand why it would be that way."

Former co-worker Allison Bennett said Suttner was regularly harassed at work and would often go outside and cry.

He was also picked on by bullies at Glasgow High School, who tormented the teen for his weight, speech impediment, and "basically everything about him," according to his friend Lexie Graves.

Related: Parents Who Beat Daughter To Death Are Expecting Another Kid

Graves said she reported the bullying only once because the meetings with school administrators led nowhere — even when Suttner was ridiculed by a teacher.

Jurors concluded that Branham was the "principal in the cause of death" and that Dairy Queen negligently failed to train its employees on harassment issues. Jurors also found that Glasgow Public Schools was negligent in failing to prevent severe bullying.

Dairy Queen said the location where Suttner worked is independently owned by a franchisee, saying in a statement:

"We first learned of the situation today and our thoughts and prayers are with the family. We are still in the process of gathering information but understand from the franchisee that the manager is no longer employed at this location."

At least that means no more bullied employees.

Related: Officer Who Killed Philando Castile Charged With Manslaughter!

Special prosecutor April Wilson said authorities wanted to be "very cautious and responsible" before filing the charges, telling the Associated Press:

"Both sides of the issue are extremely important. A young man is dead. But we also want to acknowledge that it's not easy being in public education."

No, it's not. But it also sounds like a lot more people are responsible for this suicide besides Suttner's manager.

Our hearts break for this poor teen who saw no other way out.

[Image via Howard County Coroner.]

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