An 18-year-old Lexington man has been charged with robbery after he allegedly encouraged and filmed a juvenile who attacked a Tates Creek High School student walking home from school last month, according to Fayette District Court records.
The victim later attempted suicide by hanging, court records say, so that he wouldn't have to return to school, fearing that he would bullied and robbed again if he did.
Antoine D. Young, 18, is charged with second-degree robbery, according to court documents. He was arrested Friday and released later that day to his father, Antoine Young Sr. The father had no comment when reached Wednesday.
Charges also have been filed against the juvenile accused in the attack, Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said Wednesday. Roberts said she didn't have the exact charges, but she said the teen probably would face charges of second-degree assault, robbery or both. Charges also are pending against a second adult, Roberts said.
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The robbery victim and the juvenile suspect are students, according to Fayette County public schools.
The case comes as schools in Lexington and across the country are stepping up efforts to combat bullying. Fayette schools officials say they consider bullying a serious problem because students can't learn if they don't feel safe in their schools.
A week ago, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez visited Lexington to address freshmen in the Fayette public schools about the dangers of bullying nationwide. Perez said kids who bully other kids too frequently grow up to commit serious civil rights crimes. He also noted that bullying victims in some cases have committed suicide because they felt they could get no help.
Bullying cases in schools usually are resolved administratively. Cases in Lexington occasionally rise to the level of criminal charges, but those instances are relatively rare, Roberts said.
According to court filings, the current case stems from an incident about 3:30 p.m. Aug. 23 as the victim was walking home from Tates Creek High School.
Police say the victim was approached by Young and the juvenile. The juvenile then attacked the student, who sustained minor injuries and had his backpack and shoes taken, according to court documents.
An affidavit filed in court states that Young "filmed the robbery and encouraged the juvenile suspect."
Roberts said Wednesday that she didn't know whether a video of the incident had been posted online. There's no mention of that in the case file, she said.
On Monday, Aug. 27, the victim was afraid to return to school because he feared "being bullied by the juvenile suspect and robbed on his way home again," court documents say.
The student's mother then called police and tried to persuade the student to return to school. When police arrived, an officer found the victim "having attempted suicide by hanging so he wouldn't have to return to school," a court affidavit says.
Roberts on Wednesday declined to discuss details of the suicide attempt beyond what is described in court records, saying police are trying to protect the victim.
Fayette County schools officials said Wednesday afternoon that the case was not reported to them because it occurred off school grounds.
Vicki Ritchie, the district's high schools director, said she couldn't discuss specifics of the case, but she said school officials are gathering more information.
The district can take action in bullying incidents involving students even if they occur off school property, Ritchie said.
A Fayette student group that advises Superintendent Tom Shelton has listed bullying as one of the five most serious issues the district faces.
"I think that a long time ago ... bullying was kind of looked at as something that just happened, and you just needed to learn how to handle it," Ritchie said Wednesday. "Now we know it has long-lasting, devastating effects on kids, and it can come in lots of different forms."
Ritchie said the district now provides training for teachers and staffers about bullying, encourages them to be on the lookout for cases of bullying, and talks to students about the seriousness of bullying.
"That is a huge concern for all of us," Ritchie said. "It hurts your heart if you feel like kids are coming to school and don't feel safe."
District officials can take steps against students who bully classmates, up to and including removing a student from school, Ritchie said. Law enforcement is brought in if a criminal violation might be involved, she said.
"Our goal is always to make sure anybody who is being bothered by harassment or discrimination or bullying ... is made to feel safe," she said.
Young is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.