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December 16, 2011

Student gets 90 days for attack on gay classmate

Chillicothe--An October 17 attack on a gay classmate at Union-Scioto High School has earned a student 90 days in juvenile detention.

Ross County Juvenile Court Judge Richard Ward handed down the sentence on November 29, also ordering that Levi Sever, 15, attend mental health counseling and take classes while serving his sentence. He pleaded guilty to a count of assault.

Sever has not been back to Union-Scioto High School since his attack on Zach Huston. He was originally suspended for three days, but Huston’s mother, Rebecca Collins, accused the school of having ignored previous complaints of bullying.

She narrated a video that was posted to Facebook and YouTube of the attack on her son, which showed Sever lying in wait for Huston before attacking him, and Huston trying to get away before being knocked down and pummeled.

Two days before the attack, Sever posted a comment on one of Huston’s Facebook photos, saying, “Check out the definition of a fag.”

Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt said at the time that his office was weighing charges, and had requested a report on Huston’s injuries before deciding whether to file assault or felonious assault charges. Huston suffered chipped teeth and a possible concussion in the attack.

While the school district has an anti-bullying policy, as required by state law, the policy does not specifically address sexual orientation, nor does Ohio’s anti-bullying statute enumerate categories. State Rep. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood has introduced a bill that would change that, adding categories including sexual orientation.

Collins, who went to the ACLU on behalf of her son, was angered at the school’s seemingly lackadaisical early response. The school’s administration backpedaled, however, when the video was televised on local news.

Huston told WBNS Channel 10 in Columbus that the school initially blamed him for the attack.

“He basically said, ‘There’s a few gay kids in school and you’re the only one they have problems with. So, what can you do to tone yourself down?’ ” Huston said.

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