ODESSA — Chase Cristia doesn't take the bus to school anymore. After being beaten on her school bus three months ago, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She cried so much it hurt, and her stomach turned on her. She slept too much and ate too little. And then the nightmares.
"The weirdest things," said Chase, 16. "People I care about and love beating me up and shooting at me."
The attack was perpetrated by one girl and filmed by another, then posted on Facebook. In court Thursday, the two teenagers pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor battery charges.
Cristia's mother, Tracy, said she was confused by the girls' plea.
"It really surprised me, but I'm kind of happy. I think they're going to get in more trouble," she said. "It means they can use the video as evidence."
The video, filmed Feb. 1, shows one girl pounding on Chase's head multiple times with her fist.
"That's what you get for talking s---, b----!" she yelled.
The tension started in the cafeteria at Mitchell High that day. The girls, who are not being named because of their ages, made fun of Chase's friend. Chase spoke up and was threatened. She complained to school authorities, but they didn't do anything. After the beating she called 911 and showed deputies the video. The girl accused in the attack was expelled from school.
With Chase publicly sharing her story, the case drew media attention to the larger problem of bullying at school and online.
The first month after the attack was the hardest for Chase: She didn't want to be left in the house alone, as the other girls live only a few streets away.
One of the girls sent Chase a message apologizing, Tracy Cristia said, but the parents themselves never reached out.
The family has a folder filled with documents and thousands of dollars in medical bills.
"I want the girls to be punished to the fullest extent of the law," said Chase's father, Victor.
Chase says she's gotten over the worst of it. There are no problems in school, and she's made the honor roll.