Authorities are continuing to evaluate evidence in the alleged attack on a gay Ohio teen whose mother believes may have been targeted due to his sexual orientation.
Video of the incident that appears to show the attacker, who has not been named, waiting for the gay student inside a classroom was posted on Facebook. The grainy footage is believed to have been shot on the aggressor's cousin's cell phone. Still, as The Chillicothe Gazette reports, no one else has come forward who believes the fight may have been motivated by the sexual orientation of the victim, who has chosen to remain anonymous:
According to the initial report obtained Thursday by the Gazette, the two boys were on their way to a third-period class when they "bumped shoulders." The 15-year-old suspect told deputies he has a mental illness, that he "just zoned out," and didn't know why he punched Collins' son, according to the report.
[Rebecca] Collins' son sustained a black eye, a knot behind his ear, a chipped tooth and a possible concussion, Collins said.
While Collins told deputies she thought the fight was motivated by her son's sexuality, the report indicates Osborne told the deputy he talked to the teacher and students in the classroom and no one reported the student saying anything about Collins' son's sexuality.
While the attacker was given a three-day suspension for the fight, the Gazette quotes the victim's mother as saying she feels Unioto High School, where he son is a freshman, has not done enough to clamp down on bullying. "I've called and called and called...[The response] has been real lackadaisical, 'kids will be kids,'" Collins said, noting that her son has repeatedly been called names relating to his sexuality. "To me, it's not only the kids doing it. The teachers aren't stepping in."
Though his office is evaluating whether to file an assault or felonious assault charge against the attacker, Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt added that Ohio lacked existing legislation to enhance the charges even if officials could prove the attack was motivated by the victim's sexuality. There is a federal hate crime law, he added, but the federal district attorney would have to file the charge, and Collins could approach him about it.
James Osborne, principal at Union-Scioto High School, condemned the "unfortunate" attack. "I am not saying we have never had any reports of bullying -- we have just as much as any school," he told ABC. "But we've never had anything of this magnitude."
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or visit stopbullying.gov. You can also visit GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, which strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression and The Trevor Project or call them at 866-488-7386.
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