No charges against students in case of bullied New York teen’s suicide
The police chief of Amherst, New York has announced no charges will be brought with regard to the homophobic bullying that prompted a teenager’s suicide.
Chief John Askey announced that none of the incidents of bullying against Jamey Rodemeyer were prosecutable, and that he was “not satisfied”.
Jamey, 14, killed himself in September after suffering years of homophobic bullying.
He had blogged regularly about being taunted at school and messages were left on his Formspring account calling him “gay and ugly” and encouraging him to kill himself.
In September, three students had been identified as possibly having committed chargeable offences. None will now face charges.
Askey told a press conference: “I would like to have seen something we could have done from a prosecution standpoint.”
He outlined the reasons why charges could not be brought against students.
In some cases, the statute of limitations applied, whereby if sufficient time elapses after incidents have allegedly occurred, they cannot be prosecuted.
With regard to seven incidents of homophobic bullying known to have occurred, which could have made up a course of harassment against the student, most were undertaken by different people which meant no one student individually responsible.
And in most cases, Askey said, the victim is required to file the complaint.
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The county’s District Attorney, Frank A. Sedita III agreed the case needed to be closed, saying the evidence against other students was “thin”.
He added: “It’s not a crime to be an obnoxious, teenage idiot.”
Askey said: “The fact that it can’t be prosecuted shouldn’t be the measuring stick here. I think people know that it’s inappropriate, know that it’s unacceptable.
“I think a message has been sent.”
Friends of the bullies, he added, “know who they are and their peers know who they are and they know that it’s completely unacceptable in the eyes of this community, this police department and their peers”.
The teenager was a fan of gay-friendly singer Lady Gaga and was buried in a ‘Born This Way’ t-shirt. He posted a lyric to one of her songs on his blog shortly before committing suicide.
The singer reacted to his death saying: “I have so much anger. It is hard to feel love when cruelty takes someones life … Bullying must become be illegal. It is a hate crime.”
Gaga added: “I am meeting with our president. I will not stop fighting. This must end. Our generation has the power to end it.”