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Article published Jan 27, 2008
Bus suspect says he was bully victim
By Lisa Roose-Church
DAILY PRESS & ARGUS
A 10-year-old boy, accused of molesting a 7-year-old boy on a school bus in May, said Friday that he is the victim of "bullying" by a co-defendant and the boy they are accused of molesting.

The 10-year-old, who was 9 years old at the time of the alleged incident, and his mother were in Livingston County Circuit Court's juvenile division Friday for a status conference before Judge Carol Hackett Garagiola, who was expected to review findings of a second interview with a sex-offender risk counselor.

The hearing was adjourned for two weeks because the counselor's report is not completed.

Outside the courtroom, the boy's mother told the Daily Press & Argus that she is angry and frustrated because her son is being falsely accused. She is anxious for him to return to school, especially since a counselor has twice found that her son is not a risk to other students, she said.

"He's innocent," said the mother, who is not being identified because it could identify her son. "He didn't do it."

The 10-year-old and an 11-year-old co-defendant are charged with first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct and gross indecency between males for allegedly forcing the 7-year-old boy to perform oral sex on a Howell Public Schools bus.

The Daily Press & Argus is not naming any of the students involved in the case because of their ages and the sexual nature of the allegations.

The alleged incident was discovered when the 7-year-old was caught trying to replicate the sex act on a younger brother, according to police reports. The 7-year-old eventually told police that the two older boys forced him to perform oral sex.

A message to the 7-year-old's mother was not returned Friday and attorney Carolyn Henry, who represents the co-defendant, declined to comment on the case or the 10-year-old's accusations.

The 10-year-old denied that he forced anyone to perform oral sex. He said the other two other boys had been "bullying" him for months. He defined bullying as the boys punching him, hitting him on the head and trying to pull his pants down.

The 10-year-old's mother said it got so bad that her son began wearing a belt every day.

"He couldn't get (the belt) unhooked, so he couldn't pull my pants down," the 10-year-old said about the 7-year-old.

A Howell police report alleges the older boy said the 10-year-old was bullying the younger boy.

The 10-year-old said the youngest boy was lying about the alleged sex acts in retaliation, because he told the bus driver that the 7-year-old stole the driver's wallet.

He said the 11-year-old and 7-year-old would engage in sexual activity on the bus "two times a week." He and his mother said they repeatedly asked the bus driver to move his assigned seat.

"He threatened to kill me if I told," the 10-year-old said about the older boy.

A Livingston County sheriff's detective said in a police report that there are two video recordings from the bus that do "not clearly show any exposure, but are consistent with the statements given by (the 7-year-old) as to what occurred on the bus."

The 10-year-old and his mother said they've spent hours watching the videos and they don't believe the videos show anything illegal. The boy said the videos show the other two boys ducking behind the seat because they were picking gum off the bottom of the seat to chew. Gum chewing is not allowed on the bus, he said.

The 10-year-old boy said he ducked voluntarily one time because he was playing with his MP3 player, which is also not allowed on the bus. He said the second time he disappears from the camera view is because the two boys pushed him down in the seat.

"(The 11-year-old) tried to push (the 7-year-old's) head on my thing, but I told him to stop," the 10-year-old said.

Meanwhile, the 11-year-old is undergoing a second competency exam and therapy. The first evaluation found the boy was incompetent to stand trial, meaning he did not understand the charge or the basic workings of the legal system.

Both the boy's parents have said they hope their son will be put on a consent calendar for six months, which is a probationary period, after which the case would be dismissed if he stayed out of trouble. He would also not have to register as a sex offender if the consent calendar is approved.

Contact Daily Press & Argus reporter Lisa Roose-Church at (517) 552-2846 or at lrchurch@gannett.com.