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Parents: Rape victim didn't disclose bullying because he wanted to keep playing football

TAMPA — The 13-year-old boy loved playing on his school's flag football team. That's why he said nothing about months of bullying, his parents say.

He worried they would take him off the team.

Twice a week, his father picked him up from practice. Nothing seemed amiss, the parents said in an interview Monday.

"We didn't see anything different," the father said.

Only last week did the boy allege that on April 30 four classmates held him down inside the Walker Middle School locker room and raped him with a broom handle and a hockey stick.

He finally snapped and told a coach, after another clash on the football field.

Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies have arrested Randall John Moye, 14; Lee Louis Myers, 14; Raymond A. Price-Murray, 14; and Diemante J. Roberts, 15. The four will be charged as adults, Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi said.

Moye and Myers held the victim down, while Price-Murray and Roberts committed the rapes, according to arrest affidavits obtained by the St. Petersburg Times. All four face felony charges of false imprisonment and sexual battery/principal in the first degree, and Price-Murray and Roberts face an additional charge of sexual battery.

"The schools need to put somebody in the locker rooms," the mother said. "That should be a rule."

School district spokesman Stephen Hegarty said the administration is informally discussing its supervision policy but has made no changes. The district already requires that students be supervised during school-related activities.

The boy has not returned to school. He wants to go back, his mother said, but she won't let him.

"I don't know what to do," she said.

The Times is not identifying the family because of the nature of the crime.

On Monday afternoon, members of a school district crisis intervention team met with more than 400 students at Walker Middle to help them cope with the incident.

Seventh- and eighth-graders were addressed in small groups by 13 team members, while sixth-graders met with school guidance counselors. Thirteen students needed additional, one-on-one counseling, said crisis team spokesman Vito Ricciardi. He said the arrested boys were athletic and well-liked, and many students are struggling to understand how they could now stand accused of committing a violent assault on a peer.

"I didn't have answers for them," Ricciardi said at an afternoon news conference. "I just told them we're not sure what occurred."

He said he told the students he wasn't making a judgment about whether the boys were guilty or innocent; that was a job for law enforcement and the courts.

And he had no answers when asked whether the victim would return to Walker.

"I hesitated to answer that because the young man has been through a traumatic experience," Ricciardi said. "I'm not sure what the best educational environment will be for him."

Principal Kathleen Hoffman sent a note home with the children, urging parents to report instances of suspected bullying.

"As always, our School Resource Deputy is a valuable support person at Walker," she wrote. "In addition, our teachers and staff have renewed their emphasis on maintaining safety in all common areas of the school."

The victim's father said he knew his son had been assaulted, but learned details of the alleged locker room attack from television news reports.

The boy sees his parents hurting inside, so he does not discuss the incident with them, his father said.

The father said the family just wants to heal. "It's sickening," he said. "But there is nothing you can do about it now."

Hoffman called the parents to offer any type of assistance she could, he said.

A seventh-grader at Walker and his family, who knew Diemante Roberts when he lived on Half Moon Lake Road near the Veterans Expressway, said they were surprised when they heard about the charges. "I couldn't see him doing it,'' Travis McCall, 13, said. "He's a good kid.''

Roberts, he said, played in a youth football league and had talked of trying to get a scholarship to Tampa Catholic.

Travis's mother, Yvonne Terzino, 31, said, "You never heard a bad word out of his mouth."

Meanwhile, the father of the victim said he forgives his son's alleged attackers and feels sorry for their parents.

"Look at (the boys') lives," he said. "They are ruined now."

Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report. Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813)909-4613 or nguyen@sptimes.com.

fast facts

Being bullied? There's help available

If you're being bullied or witness bullying:

• Clearly tell the bullies to stop.

• Tell someone you trust at school — a teacher, guidance counselor or administrator — and your parents.

• Avoid being alone with the person/s who have attempted to bully you in the past

• If you feel uncomfortable reporting the incident at school, tell someone else.

For a link to more information and tip sheets on dealing with bullying from the Hillsborough school district's student handbook, go to links.tampabay.com or visit
stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov.

Source: Hillsborough County Public Schools

Parents: Rape victim didn't disclose bullying because he wanted to keep playing football 05/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 4:49pm]
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