Lennon Baldwin Suicide: Charges Filed In Morristown Bullying Case [AUDIO]
Several charges have been filed in the case of 15-year-old Lennon Baldwin, a Morristown High School freshman who committed suicide in March because he was apparently overwhelmed by alleged persistent bullying from three students.
Officials hope the legal action will help prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.
In early March, Baldwin was allegedly assaulted by two students in an incident caught on video. When one of the assailants was suspended by the school, Baldwin was pressured to tell officials that the incident was merely "horseplay," according to Morris County prosecutor Robert Bianchi. "After the suspension went forward, Mr. Baldwin was confronted, robbed and threatened by three students in retaliation."
Authorities say Baldwin killed himself at his home on March 28th. A cause of death was not officially released.
Bianchi points out that because of the state's anti-bullying law, this tragic case did not slip through the cracks.
"We have two juvenile defendants and one adult defendant, and they'll be going through the normal court processing."
The names of the two juveniles are being withheld. The adult is identified as 19-year-old Michael Conway, a student at the school.
Previously, schools throughout New Jersey had different standards for reporting bully incidents, says Bianchi.
"Now, school administrators are basically saying, 'We're gonna be reporting what we see directly ourselves,' which, I think, is something that should've always occurred."
Bianchi hopes that having real and serious consequences can deter other potential bullies. "We're taking care of these kids who are vulnerable and preyed upon. If the bullying, intimidation and harassment rises to the level of an already established criminal offense, then we can fully prosecute it."
He also hopes that the anti-bullying statute will ease the pressure on victims, "In terms of a kid worrying that if he-or-she reports it, he'll have an increased issue with regard to his-or-her bullies."
As a result, communication between schools and law enforcement has greatly improved, according to Bianchi. "The law that Governor Christie signed is very powerful for us, in terms of really coordinating, reporting and investigating cases where violence is occurring in the schools."
The charges in the Lennon Baldwin case come on the heels of another high-profile bullying incident in New Jersey. Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was to begin serving a 30-day jail sentence on Thursday for spying on his roommate's intimate encounter with another man and broadcasting it online. The roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide days after the encounter was made public.