The Curious Rabbit Case: Teacher Loses 'Rabbit-Phobia' Trial

A German teacher has lost a defamation suit Tuesday in which she claims that a 16-year-old student spread vicious rumors saying that she has a rabbit phobia. The court case, which triggered nationwide headlines, was dismissed on the grounds that the student proved the teacher's phobia as fact.

A teacher in the northern German town of Vechta lost her case Tuesday that would have put to bed the rumor that she's afraid of rabbits. Marion V., 60, a German and geography teacher, made headlines earlier this year by accusing a 16-year-old schoolgirl of defamation, alleging that the student maliciously gossiped that V. suffers from rabbit phobia.

The defendant, named as Kim P., caused the stir by drawing a rabbit on the blackboard of V.'s classroom. Upon entering the room and seeing the drawing, V. reportedly fled from her classroom in tears.

The court dismissed V.'s claims, saying through a court spokesperson that V.'s fear of rabbits is a fact, which the defendant proved in court. If Kim P. was found guilty, she would have faced a €5,000 fine for any further incidents of rabbit drawing in front of V.

Past Rabbit Phobia Accusations

V. has been on leave from her teaching duties since the incident and wasn't present at Tuesday's ruling because of an illness.

The teacher has been dogged by her supposed rabbit phobia for years. V. settled a similar suit she brought against a student in 2008, in which the student agreed to stop spreading rumors that V. started crying or went into fits every time she saw a rabbit or heard the animal's name, the court said in a statement.

The case should bring some closure for Kim P. and her family. Kim's mother Corinna on Tuesday said that her daughter suffered from "psychological stress" because of the court case, according to the German news agency ddp. Corinna also said that Kim's grades were so poor due to the stress that she may have to repeat the ninth grade.

Corinna couldn't even laugh about the curious case that has triggered so many headlines. "I've had too many sleepless nights," she said of the case.

Kim P. and V. have crossed paths before too. Kim P. was a student in Goldenstedt, a town 13 kilometers east of Vechta, while V. was a teacher at the same school. Both student and teacher changed schools later on, and Kim P. drew V. as a teacher in the ninth grade in Vechta. Part of V.'s case stated that Kim P. continued the rabbit-phobia rumor once in Vechta.

V. can appeal the ruling, but it is unclear whether she will do so.

egk -- with wires

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