Family of 12-year-old viciously beaten at school have more questions than answers

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FOX 32 NEWS - The family of a South Elgin boy who was severely beaten by another student in school last week has now retained a law firm to investigate what they call troubling questions about the attack.

Henry Sembdner, 12, is home from the hospital and doing better now. His family is thankful for the outpouring of support from his school and the community. But now they also want to know if they're getting the full story from the school district.
"Right now the family has more questions than we do answers,” said attorney Lance Northcutt.

Northcutt is now representing the family of Henry Sembdner, the 12-year-old boy who was beaten after bumping into a student on Friday at Kenyon Woods Middle School in South Elgin.

"What we're seeing in terms of injuries in this young man isn't something that was just a one-of punch. This was an incredibly brutal sustained attack,” Northcutt said. "The threshold question we have is how did this happen in the first place? We're talking about very young kids. We're talking about Henry is a very mild mannered well-behaved kid."

"And then from some innocuous event you have an encounter that almost ends his life,” Northcutt added.

Henry was put into a medically induced coma to control brain swelling. He’s now back home with several facial fractures and a broken orbital bone. His family is questioning why Henry spent time in the school nurse's office before an ambulance was called.

"We don't know exactly how long it was between the time this occurred and the time professional medical help actually arrived and he was taken to the hospital,” Northcutt said.

And they're also questioning whether the student who attacked Henry should have been flagged by the school.

"What if any knowledge did the school have that there might have been a problem and what if anything did they try to do to help the young man before he had an encounter with Henry,” Northcutt said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for district U-46 says they are aware the family has retained a law firm: "We have not yet received anything but the attorney has contacted us. We will continue our investigation in cooperation with authorities."

The family's lawyer says there's been no decision about litigation. They just want an independent investigation.

"Some straightforward answers as to how their child who was entrusted to this school ended up in a coma. And that's a reasonable position for them to take,” Northcutt said.

The family's attorney says Henry will be out of school for an extended time and can't play sports for at least a year.