Written by Evan Bernick
The Crime of Being Bullied: 15-Year-Old Special Needs Student Convicted of Disorderly Conduct for Recording Evidence of Bullying
It’s a horrific case study in bullying. A high school sophomore who suffers from comprehension delay disorder (an information-processing disorder), ADHD, and an anxiety disorder was regularly shoved and tripped, nearly burned with a cigarette lighter, and psychologically tortured by his peers. He fought back in the only way he could, documenting the abuse on his school-issued iPad. His mother, Shea Love, submitted the evidence to school administrators.
And the administrators took action. Not against the bullies. Against their victim.
According to BenSwann.com, a sophomore at South Fayette High School in McDonald, Pennsylvania, whose name has been withheld at the family’s request, suffered a year of abuse before he decided to take a stand. After researching anti-bullying websites, he used his school-issued iPad to make a seven-minute audio recording of his treatment during math class, where the most intense bullying took place. He later explained his actions: “I wanted her (Love) to understand what I went through…. I wanted it to stop. I just felt like nothing was being done.”
What exactly is on the recording? According to Love, as the teacher is attempting to help her son with a math problem, a student says, “You should pull his pants down!” Another student replies, “No, man. Imagine how bad that (c**t) smells! No one wants to smell that (t**t).” Then, a loud noise is heard—the sound of book being slammed down next to Love’s son after a student feigned hitting him in the head with it. Laughter follows.
Love submitted the recording to the school’s administrators hoping they would punish the perpetrators. Disgracefully, these “educators” decided to blame the victim. Love says that instead of handling the matter internally, Principal Scott Milburn summoned South Fayette Township Police Lieutenant Robert Kurta to the school to interrogate her son in the presence of the associate principal and the dean of students. Prior to Kurta’s arrival, the faculty members pressured the student, whose mother was not present, to delete the recording. By the time Love arrived at the school, her son was understandably distraught.
Then something surreal happened. Love’s son was first threatened with felony wiretapping, but the charge was later reduced to disorderly conduct. Felony wiretapping? Disorderly conduct? This conduct is not even remotely the sort at which such statutes are directed, and the mind reels at the idiocy of these charges. Using the criminal law to target this helpless 15-year old is a disgraceful exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
Unbelievably enough, District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet found the bullied student guilty. The student plans to appeal, and his next court appearance is April 29. To add insult to injury, while the school kicked Love’s son out of the special education math class, the bullies remain enrolled.
The school will not comment on the matter. That’s not just unacceptable—it’s despicable. Love’s son is not only owed an apology from Principal Milburn and reinstatement into the math class, but the school should conduct a thorough investigation into his continuing torment. The bullies should be punished. And the victim’s conviction should be reversed on appeal.
Source: Heritage Foundation