Police Open Criminal Investigation in Bullying Suicide of Gay Teen Jamey Rodemeyer

A criminal investigation is being launched over the suicide of gay teen Jamey Rodemeyer, who took his own life over the weekend after what his parents said was years of bullying.

Rodemeyer ABC News reports:

The Amherst Police Department's Special Victims Unit has said it will determine whether to charge some students with harassment, cyber-harassment or hate crimes. Police said three students in particular might have been involved. Jamey was a student at Heim Middle School.

Jamey had just started his freshman year at Williamsville North High School. (Both Amherst and Williamsville are just outside Buffalo.) But the bullying had begun during middle school, according to his parents. He had told family and friends that he had endured hateful comments in school and online, mostly related to his sexual orientation.

Jamey was found dead outside his home Sunday morning, but Amherst police would not release any details on how he killed himself.

The Buffalo News adds:

"We're going to look into whether he was the victim of any crimes leading up to his suicide," Police Chief John C. Askey said.

"We're not indicating, not speculating at this point, that that is the cause of his death, … but independently, there may have been crimes that have been committed against him."

Askey said he spoke Wednesday with Williamsville School Superintendent Scott G. Martzloff, who has pledged the district's cooperation.

Comments

  1. Reggie says

    Unfortunately, nothing will be done. The police will feign concern with an “investigation” that will come up inconclusive. And the school superintendent will wring his hands, and later mouth empty platitudes about how much of a tragedy it was. The time for them to act is way past. When the bullying was going on. Now comes the long faces, and the faux sombre tones. The rightwingers, and teabaggers will continue to claim that it is just a part of “growing up”. So sad.

  2. larryh59 says

    Even though I think this is great that the authorities have taken an interest into taking some action into this boys death, I can’t help but think the only the only reason they’re doing this is because of the national attention this has gotten!

  3. says

    This is a completely misplaced effort. Focus on getting the schools to respond better to bullying. Get information out to kids that there is help. Educate the kids who do the bullying. People say mean things all the time, changing behavior and how we respond to those words is a lot more productive than the theater of an “investigation” into 9th graders being mean.

  4. Francis says

    Lisa, in the real world, bad actions *should*, and generally do, carry consequences. That is what is happening here. Is it enough? No. But reducing brutal bullying to “kids say mean stuff all the time” is incredibly disrespectful and quite frankly, heartless.

    Jamey is dead BECAUSE of these boys who bullied him. Not enough was done to prevent this tragedy but steps can be done to prevent incidents like this from occurring ever again. And one of those steps is letting it be known, if you bully, you will be punished, and potentially prosecuted and charged legally.

  5. Mark says

    The energy should be focused on giving these LGBT kids specific resources and advocates–especially during junior high.

    Kids of this age group are incredibly cruel and immature and singe certain kids like a pack of hyenas.

    Schools needs to start taking responsiblity and implementing preventative measures BEFORE a tragedy happens. All these post-tragedy, cover-our-ass gyrations by schools and law officials are pathetically transparent.

  6. says

    Francis, in the real world you also have to prove intent. I seriously doubt those kids were trying to bully Jamey into killing himself. Sometimes our actions have unintended consequences. Thats why we need to educate kids and make them more aware of their actions..both the act of bullying and the act of taking ones life.

  7. ohplease says

    This is excellent news for this ongoing tragedy.

    Meanwhile, I applaud the resident trolls for showing restraint for a change on a post regarding a dead child. If you must make your opinions known, may you continue to do so with this newfound civility.

  8. anon says

    Cases in Kansas and CT both lost on appeal on first amendment grounds. Normally, libel and slander are considered torts and not criminal harassment. Stealing someones lunch money would be assault/theft. Threatening violence would be assault. Bullying is not a new crime. “Cyber Harassment” has been thrown out of courts on appeal. You can’t make non-material distinction in law. Prosecutors love headlines, and don’t mind wasting everyone’s time when they know they will lose on appeal either.

  9. Jeff says

    I doubt anything will come of this at all sad to say. In the end courts and schools do not care about gay kids. If this were a high school football team bullying a nerdy straight girl this would get far more airtime and a made for TV movie with Valerie Bertinelli and Alan Thicke. But since Jamey was gay they will “investigate” find nothing and this will all be swept under the rug. What I HOPE happens is that kids in that school talk, point fingers, name names, talk about who was doing the bullying and which school administrators turned their backs and swept it under the rug. I want to know and I want those people held accountable.

  10. Dastius Krazitauc says

    “I seriously doubt those kids were trying to bully Jamey into killing himself”

    Jamey was URGED to do just that via online postings. These kids did not live in a vacuum. They must have been well aware of teen suicide, and specifically the suicides of gay teens over the last year. Hell, there had even been suicides of students in the same school.

    They regularly tormented him and urged him to kill himself, so I’m glad the police are looking into possible crimes of harassment.

  11. Rick says

    @Francis No, Francis, he is dead because the message of people like you to boys like him is that he is of inferior masculinity because of his sexuality and can therefore not be expected to respect himself enough to stand up and defend himself, the way any other self-respecting boy or man would do.

    You create the sissy mentality that is both the reason he got bullied in the first place and the reason he killed himself rather than fighting back.

    His blood is on your hands and that of people like you who indoctrinate young gay men with the idea that they are quasi-women rather than men, both with the behavior you yourselves display and with your approach to the problem.

  12. Ryan says

    I’m fairly confident the police will sniff out the big culprits, a little less confident that a jury will adaquately punish them. that said, even bringing charges and making sure every kid in those communities know they can’t get away with things like that will help ensure it doesn’t happen again.

  13. Francis says

    You wouldn’t know the first thing it takes to be a “real man”, Rick. Not at all. You’re a vile individual and people like you create the culture that fosters bullying. You are a disgrace.

    To answer your question, Lisa, it’s because people (well, the people who bully/ignore the issue of bullying/justify bullying) generally don’t seem to care about kids being bullied until a tragedy happens, and many don’t care even if a tragedy such as this does in fact happen. Because the kids being bullied, by and large, are the “lesser kids”. The social outcasts. No-one listens, and no-one cares, until it’s too late.

  14. Rich says

    @Lisa G

    I hear your concern about lack of criminal intent, but the law appears to have evolved to a lower standard:

    there have been numerous successful prosecutions in many jurisdictions of persons who have caused the deaths of others while driving under the influence of alcohol. In virtually all of these cases, the defendant had no malice towards his victims and no intent to cause grave bodily harm. But the law will hold the defendant criminally responsible.

    Cyberbullying has the element of malice, and in view of the consequences so publicly played out, the probability of reckless disregard for the lives and safety of the victims. Were I writing the law, I would prefer these cases to be tried as torts, with the Attorney General mandated to enter the proceedings as joint plaintiff with the bereaved. I don’t expect Congress and the State Legislatures to follow my lead, however.

  15. Rick says

    “You’re a vile individual and people like you create the culture that fosters bullying”

    What culture is that, Francis? The same one that produces those “awful” activities like football and boxing and Bear Grylls-type adventures.

    Ugh, all that “manstuff”.

    Now if you can just find a way to stop fantasizing about being on your knees in front of that NFL quarterback and that ripped boxer–in preference to some prissy little queen, somebody might take you seriously (LOL)

  16. Rin says

    @Rick,

    Is “masculine” synonymous with being mean-spirited?

    Because your “masculine” comments in regards to this child’s death, the other posters on the board, and your belief that men are a panacea not to be disturbed by women except if there is a population deficit problem show someone who really is rather mean.

  17. Artie says

    @ Rick,

    There’s nothing wrong at all with the police department investigating potential criminal action. I’m all for giving kids positive role models and encouraging them to fight back in any way that’s available to them. But when police departments investigate potential crimes, please don’t ask them to play favorites based on their approval or disapproval of masculine/feminine behavior. That would be illegal and any jurisdiction could rightfully be sued. Harassment, cyber-harassment or hate crimes are illegal in almost any Western democracy. We are a nation ruled by laws, not individual men.

    I agree with you to the extent that I think it’s self-destructive for some gay men to surrender agency and decision-making to women. I disagree with you to the extent that I think your discomfort over behavior that is not stereotypically masculine is misplaced. That misplaced discomfort also has the side effect of making people think that you’re just striking poses, and so they take you less seriously. I think that’s unfortunate because I agree with your central insight: some gay men hand authority over to women because they feel that they’re required to, which I think is internalized homophobia. Do you think that’s a better focus?

  18. NHbrooklyn says

    I tried writing a forward to what I want to say about how I grew up there and had similar experiences etc. etc. but what I really want to say is that I cried when I read about this. Buffalo has a large and open gay community with many outlets to get support. It also has many schools and charter schools that you can send your kid to. When I grew up I kept the bullying I received about “hanging out with all girls and eating at the girls lunch table etc etc to myself, but this kid was reaching out for help through so many outlets and his parents were fully aware of the bullying he was receiving. WHY DIDN’T they do anything. I’m sorry to say that as someone that was bullied and bullied others it’s kind of part of growing up, there’s always going to be a pecking order, people are always going to be wary about things they don’t understand especially when they’re kids, you don’t really realize what you’re doing to someone. I don’t think it’s fair to treat the kids that bully as criminals, they do it as a response of how they’re raised and taught by the adults they’re around. This has just really upset me as when I read that the parents blame this on years of bullying I want to know why they didn’t change things.

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