A family of three pigs was in a Sumter County courtroom Monday, seeking damages from The Big Bad Wolf for destroying two houses, one made of straw and another made of sticks.
The mock fairy tale trial is a teaching tool to explain to children how the justice system works.
"You're going down, Wolf," said Little Red Riding Hood.
"I would just like to say that Little Red Riding Hood is lying," said the Big Bad Wolf.
Tensions were high as the Big Bad Wolf prepared to defend himself against a lawsuit that he bullied and harmed Three Little Pigs. The wolf said he doesn't look at what happened as bullying, but a seasonal ailment.
"Apparently these three pigs right here have said that I was bullying them, but I just have really bad allergies," said the Wolf, portrayed by Arthur Grothe. "And I just happened to sneeze, and that happened to disrupt their houses a little bit. Now they're all upset. I didn't do it."
The wolf said he sustained injuries of his own, which the pigs described as simply a kitchen mishap.
"Well, he tried to come to my house, but then he tried to come down the chimney," said the Little Pig with a Brick House, portrayed by Jewel Townsend. "He tried to attack my sister and brother, but he came down the chimney and he claimed I tried to hurt him. But I didn't. I was just cooking soup! And he fell into the pot of water."
This trial shows third grade students in Sumter County the effects of bullying. Its goal is to show students that bullying can have serious side effects for the bully and the victim.
"There are frightening statistics about bullying and its effects," said Sumter County District Judge Tammy Montgomery, who portrayed Miss Justice. "That it normally starts in fourth grade and leads up to eighth grade. That a bully is twice as likely to take his own life. That one out of ten children drop out of school due to bullying. And we want to start a grade earlier so that we can try and erode the effects of bullying here in Sumter County."
Montgomery's office initiates these teaching opportunities as a way to show children how the court system works and the potential consequences of bad behavior and choices.