TAMPA — The 13-year-old boy said the bullying had been going on for months.
But he didn't say anything. Not to a teacher. Not to a coach. Not to his mother.
Not even when two of the bullies held him down while the other two sexually battered him with a broom handle and hockey stick, authorities say. The boys were alone in the locker room getting ready for an interscholastic flag football team practice.
"That's part of this tragedy," Hillsborough County school superintendent MaryEllen Elia said Saturday. "For whatever reason, he didn't tell anyone."
That changed Wednesday, she said, following an altercation between the victim and his tormenters on the flag football field at Walker Middle School on Tuesday night.
The coach, noticing something unusual, pulled the boy aside.
"The victim said to him, 'I'm just sick of this,' " Elia said.
The coach followed up the next morning, and had the alleged bullies meet with a female physical education teacher. The teacher instructed each of the four students to write down his version of events.
Hours later, deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office arrested four students: Randall John Moye, 14; Raymond A. Price-Murray, 14; Lee Louis Myers, 14; and Diemante J. Roberts, 15.
The four will be charged as adults and face charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment in connection with the April 30 assault, said Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi. They were taken to a juvenile detention center and could be there for at least 21 days, said Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
None of the parents of the accused could be reached for comment Saturday night.
Elia, who said she has not read the four students' written accounts, said school officials acted as soon as they became aware of a problem.
"As soon as it became obvious that there was more involved in this than a simple altercation," the school resource officer was called, she said. "There obviously had been a clue in those stories."
The boy, whom the Times is not identifying because of the nature of the crime, told authorities he had been bullied between March 15 and May 5 and identified his attackers, Elia said.
The incident has rocked the community and parents, who said Walker is a good school.
Questions have been raised about the level of the supervision, which the school district is looking into, she said. "Most of the students don't even go into the locker room," Elia said.
The attack also highlights the larger issue of bullying, Elia said.
"It's tragic," she said. "We need to make sure that our students feel they can talk about this."
The district has lined up guidance counselors to be available to Walker students and staff on Monday, Elia said.
Parents and school staff members also will be contacted through the district's ParentLink system.
"I think it's a time when we need to pull together," Elia said. "It's just one of those incidents that you feel terrible occurred."
Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell contributed to this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727)893-8643.