Homophobic Bullying leads to Murder
Murder Trial Begins For Teen Who Alleges He Was Target Of Homophobic Bullying
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: July 26, 2007 - 3:00 pm ET
(Cazenovia, Wisconsin) The first degree murder trial began Thursday for a 16-year old who killed his principal last year for allegedly failing to stop the teen from being bullied.
Principal John Klang, 49, was shot in the head, leg, and torso and later died in hospital. Eric Hainstock is charged as an adult. If convicted the teenager could face life in prison.
Police said that Hainstock armed himself with a handgun and rifle owned by his parents and headed off to Weston High School. A janitor and teacher saw Hainstock with the shotgun as he entered the school before classes
Investigators said that Hainstock pointed the gun at the teacher, but the custodian took it away.
When Hainstock reached for the handgun the janitor and teacher took cover.
Klang then confronted the teen and tried to talk him into putting down the gun. When Hainstock refused Klang attempted to wrestle the gun from the youth's hand and the two ended up on the floor. At that point Hainstock allegedly shot the principal three times.
According to court papers filed last year by the prosecutor in Sauk County Circuit Court Hainstock told police after he was taken into custody that students regularly bullied him - calling him "fag" and "faggot" and rubbed up against him.
The documents said that the teenager told police he was so frustrated that Klang and teachers would do nothing to stop the harassment he decided to arm himself.
The day before the shooting Hainstock received a written discipline from Klang for having brought tobacco to school.
The 15-year old was enrolled in a special class at the school for emotionally and behaviorally disturbed students. Teachers say that he excelled in art and last year had been selected to participate in a districtwide art contest.
But they also allege that he had made threats to his teachers more than once this year.
Sauk County District Attorney Pat Barrett has said Hainstock is a selfish liar who reacts violently whenever adults tell him what to do.
Hainstock's attorneys, public defenders Rhoda Ricciardi and Jon Helland, have said Hainstock was bullied and that teachers looked the other way.
It is not known if the teen identified as being gay. Experts in bullying say the sexuality of a bullying victim is not important - pointing to studies showing the wide impact homophobic bullying has on students.
One study, released in April to coincide with the National Day of Silence, showed that three-quarters of students surveyed across America said that over the past year they heard derogatory remarks such as "faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school, and nearly nine out of ten reported hearing "that's so gay" or "you're so gay" - meaning stupid or worthless - frequently or often. (story)
Over a third of students said they experienced physical harassment at school on the basis of sexual orientation and more than a quarter on the basis of their gender expression.
Nearly one-in-five students reported they had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth because of their gender expression.