June 3, 2010
A Virginia teenager who said he was being bullied by a classmate hanged himself this week after his mother complained to the sheriff's office and school administrators met with the two students and their parents.
York County authorities are investigating what led to the suicide of Christian Taylor, 16, who was found hanged in his bedroom Monday. York-Poquoson Sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Ivey said Wednesday that authorities had looked into complaints by Taylor's mother weeks ago, but turned the matter over to his school after finding no crime had been committed.
Because of Taylor's death, Ivey said authorities are re-examining the case to see if any laws were broken.
"This investigation is all-encompassing now," he said. "We're going back to see if this was going on and people just weren't talking about it at the time. We're going to get to the bottom of it."
Taylor's mother, Alise Williams, said the Grafton High School freshman had complained to school and law enforcement officials about being bullied, but nothing was done to stop her son's tormentor.
"He's still in school," Williams said in a telephone interview. "They have not suspended him. He has not been expelled. And he doesn't just target my son, he's targeted quite a few others."
County School Superintendent Eric Williams said that as soon as school officials learned about the situation, administrators met with the students who were involved and their parents "and took immediate action." He refused to elaborate, citing student privacy laws.
The superintendent said teachers and administrators "made contact with the student who passed away throughout the month of May to determine whether any additional assistance was needed," but he said could not divulge the results of those encounters.
Taylor's mother expressed mixed feelings about the current investigation by the sheriff's office.
"I want justice for my child, and that's fine - I'm glad they're doing it - but they should have done it when Chris wanted to bring charges the first time," she said.
Taylor's suicide came less than six months after a 15-year-old in Massachusetts hanged herself after being assaulted and bullied by classmates. Six teens face charges in that case.
Christian Taylor was an avid skateboarder and fan of the rock bands Nickelback and Korn, his mother said. She said he had also had some problems with bullies in Killeen, Texas, before the family moved to Virginia a few months ago. Taylor's stepfather is in the Army and was returning Wednesday from deployment to South Korea.
"Chris was a good kid," Alise Williams said. "He had the usual teenage problems, the awkwardness and all, but he had a girlfriend and friends and they're devastated."
She described the bullying of her son as "just a lot of taunting and saying mean stuff." In one instance, she said, the classmate "told my son to go ahead and commit suicide and get it over with."