Chadron State College promised to honor a student after her suicide. Her family says ‘they’re hiding it’
Fatima Larios’ family hoped school officials could use her death as a way to help others trapped in abusive relationships seek support. Years later, the family thinks the Nebraska school has quietly tried to distance itself from the tragedy.
When more than three years of “emotionally draining litigation” between a Nebraska college and the parents of a 19-year-old student who died by suicide ended with a settlement, both sides promised to turn the tragedy into an opportunity.
Chadron State College and the Nebraska State College System agreed in 2020 to pay $900,000 to Lissette Larios Roohbakhsh and Nelson Larios to resolve their claims that college officials failed to protect their daughter. Fatima Larios, a member of Chadron State’s NCAA softball team, was found dead in her boyfriend’s campus dorm room in 2015.
Before her death, Fatima’s family and friends on California’s central coast knew her as a gifted athlete with a sunny personality who had a knack for lifting the spirits of those around her.
They didn’t know — and wouldn’t learn until it was too late — that Fatima suffered from a physically and emotionally abusive relationship with her boyfriend.
Chadron State staff knew about the abuse, court records show. Employees reached out to Fatima, but her parents said the college didn’t do enough to prevent the alleged bruises on her arms and legs, her withdrawal from friends and eventually her death.
Fatima’s family didn’t just receive payment from the settlement. Chadron State agreed to additional sentimental requests, the type that can be unusual in legal agreements. Those included a memorial to Fatima on campus, a scholarship in her name, suicide prevention training for staff and students and assistance with the school’s policies related to sexual violence and sex harassment.
The settlement gave Chadron State and the Nebraska State College System, which oversees the northwest Nebraska college, sole discretion to carry out its terms. The institutions promised to consider the family’s wishes.