Teen Rape Victim Commits Suicide After Bullying

Sometimes, the horrible stories just don’t stop.  In the wake of the LGBT bullying suicides earlier this fall, a 14-year-old girl in Detroit committed suicide after being taunted in school and on Twitter, and identified on local news.  The charges against her 18-year-old perpetrator are now being dropped.

Last month, Samantha Kelly’s mother reported to the police that Joseph Tarnopolski had sex with her daughter; he was charged with third-degree sexual misconduct and released on bail, at which point he returned to the high school that he and Kelly both attended (Tarnopolski also lived extremely nearby).  Tarnopolski then began venting his anger at Kelly over Twitter, first writing,

“All girls are, are liars and backstabbers! I hate you all. Way to ruin my life. Seriously, now this will be on my record for life!”  A few days later, he tweeted, “I’m facing a sentance (sic) of prison time. Up to 4 years seeing as how I am 18 years of age now,” and then finally wrote, “You say I [expletive] your life up, but your the one who lies to everyone because your scared to get in trouble! You threw this upon me! Your idea.”

The local prosecutor’s office said that they didn’t realize that Kelly was being bullied until Kelly’s mother was interviewed on local TV.  After the report aired, though, Kelly began to be taunted at school, until she committed suicide.

“This affects everyone; that’s something some people don’t seem to get,” Alicia Skillman, the director of Equality Michigan, said. “You can be an average, middle-of-the road youth, and you can be bullied about something. All it takes is for someone to have a certain perspective of you — someone can think you’re poor, or too elite, or gay — and you can get bullied for that. This is what happens, and children are killing themselves; they don’t realize that they can survive what’s happening to them.”

There has been an enormous amount of publicity about teen suicides because of bullying recently, which should result in more anti-bullying legislation, something that has been one of Equality Michigan’s priorities.  But there’s another potential side to the coin – writing for Jezebel, Anna North pointed out,

“Is it possible that this is giving kids the idea to end their lives? It’s hard to know, but ignoring bullying doesn’t seem to be the answer either — rather, lawmakers, educators, and families need to take the increased visibility of the problem as an opportunity to start stamping it out.”The saddest part of the story, for me, is that the case isn’t going to trial – if Tarnopolski did assault Kelly, he’s going to get away with it.  As the spokesman for the police department explained, “Without the victim, we’re unable to go forward with the case.”

Photo from Flickr.


Mark Alan Dellavecchia

FYI - Thursday, October 20, 2011 is International SPIRIT DAY - one of the minor holidays on the LGBT Calendar. It is asked that you wear a PURPLE SHIRT as a sign of LGBT support, and in memory of the LGBT Teens who have died because of their orientation.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari L7 years ago

Prosecution don't need a live victim to prosecute for murder so...And why isn't bullying someone to death a criminal offence?

Tori W.
Past Member 7 years ago

there are no easy answers. better than me will have to come up with solutions but bullys are basically cowards. using the internet to bully is another cowardly tactic and the police should have been told and stepped in. maybe the young girl would still be alive. and isn't it nice, we have another up and coming sadistic rapist?? impressive!

Dawn F.
Dawn F.7 years ago


Tessa D.
Tessa De Veras7 years ago

Poor girl, sooooo sad !!

Dominic C.
Dominic C7 years ago

This is so sad!

Kendra Richards
Kendra richards7 years ago

I have recently written several articles lately about bullying. It sickens me, should never ever be tolerated! I don't think authorities often seem to take this as a serious issue but it is beyond serious at this point! Im sad for this young girl and her loved ones. :(

Nobody deserves that. Bullying of any kind should never be tolerated but why does it go unnoticed so often? Why is it so often blown off? I know a woman (an actual adult) who bullies people especially younger girls over their christianity/religious beliefs. I've been truly shocked at what I've heard from the womans mouth. I eventually reported her. Nothing, not even a word was said to her about it!

Lika S.
Lika P7 years ago

Sex assault is one of the most brutal ways to be abused. The only time it's more harsh is when you're in live combat or a POW. Yes, that's how severe rape is.

To bully a rape victim afterwards rather than give that person support in a safe environment is escalating the trauma to the same level as one who is on the front lines of war.

Please sign the April's Law petitions, to put harsher punishments on child sex predators on and offline. Here are the links:

State Version:

Federal Petition:

Please copy and paste into your browser.

Diana S.
Diana S.7 years ago

Laura S.,And this is not you bullying me with this post,your first post?:the mother reported the sex, the police made the charge. The girl did NOT scream rape. The girl was caught up in the mess once things were put in motion. Then the bullying began with the same FALSE assumptions and FALSE accusations that Diana S. made ON THIS BOARD. Critical to note: the charge of rape does NOT mean that the sex was NOT consensual, but that it is the LEGAL FACT that the girl was underage. The bullying was from people just like Diane S. who made a judgment of the girl and the situation with no first-hand knowledge. Diane S. and the bullies were more than willing to pass judgment from a position of no personal knowledge of the legal actions that were made OUTSIDE OF THE YOUNG GIRL’S CONTROL. The mother reported the act; the police applied the law. The situation escalated and the pressure built until the girl could not possibly process and handle it. It is very sad that she did not get the support that she desperately needed once the legal actions were put in motion. Of interest, on the news this morning there is a possible second rape charge being investigated against the same boy. He was interviewed and commented on nothing being able to be done about the suicide, and about “moving on.” Unbelievable.You called me a bully because I stated a fact now who was the bully initially?That was you Ms.Cyber Bully,You don't have a clue either their Einstein so grow up if that's possibl

Diana S.
Diana S.7 years ago

Laura S.and you never initially bullied me by misquoting my words to make me look like something I wasn't right?Just like you are not bullying me now with this post:Diana S. posted a virulent comment that appears just before yours. I quoted her words exactly and she did not like it. She disliked it so much that she sent me a message through the “introduction” function of this site. This message itself is evidence of cyber bullying. The difference between myself and young Samantha is that I am an adult and can recognize Diana S.’s personality as a bully and choose to turn my back on it. Young Samantha could not handle the boy’s and other's bullying and all of the press coverage. Diana S. claimed that that Samantha “screamed rape.” Her words. There is nothing in the article or on any news story that says that. The girl told her mom she had sex, the mom reported it, the police applied the law. Now I have been cyber bullied by Diana S. because of my comment on this board. So you were just an innocent victim as well?No wonder you approve of this girl lying and starting all of this to begin with.Let's get your story straight as well,you originally misquoted everything I said and attacked me in your original post but you did not consider that cyber bullying and did not expect a response right?Dear maybe you should go play in the kiddie pool since you react originally like a juvenile and then get offended when somebody dishes it back out,kind of sucks do