CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Authorities and school officials at at Union-Scioto High School in Chillicothe, Ohio, are once again investigating the attack on a gay teen whose mother is calling the assault a hate crime, now that video evidence has surfaced that was not previously known to exist.
The beating, captured on video using a cell phone, and later posted to Facebook, shows the assailant grab the victim, stand over him and deliver at least seven punches in quick succession, the smacks audible on the video. The video was reportedly captured by the assailant’s cousin.
Officials say they are now evaluating the cellphone video and a Facebook comment posted two days prior in which the assailant allegedly called the victim a “faggot” — evidence that that came to light after the school’s initial investigation, which indicated the fight was not motivated by anti-gay bias, reported the Chillicothe Gazette.
According to Rebecca Collins, the victim’s mother, the student who attacked her son was given a three-day suspension for the fight. But it wasn’t until the video showed up on Facebook several days later that prompted her to urge school and police to investigate the attack further.
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.
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.
But instead of “bumping shoulders,” the video shows that the assailant “stood there and waited on him, and waited on him, and waited on him,” said Collins. “And then as soon as he walks in the door, the boy hits him. The victim walks away saying, ‘What did I do? Why are you doing this?’ And he keeps walking away.”
School officials declined to identify the assailant or confirm the suspension due to confidentiality issues, but Osbourne said the discipline related to the incident was meted out days before he became aware of the video, which contradicted his investigation and appears to reveal premeditation.
Sheriff’s officials are also investigating the motive for the attack, and Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt said his office is evaluating whether to file an assault or felonious assault charge, as Ohio does not currently have a hate crimes law that includes bias-based crimes motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity.
There is a federal hate crime law, said Schmidt, but the federal district attorney would have to file the charge.
Collins said she wants to see the school enforce zero tolerance for all bullying and implement stricter consequences.
The Union-Scioto Local School District does have a policy that prohibits harassment based on sex, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, among others, but it does not specifically protect against harassment or bullying based on sexual orientation or gender identity.