Seen the guy who beat up a teen? ‘Russian brides’ site will pay $10K to knock him out
Video provided by Kevin Wise
WEST DEPTFORD — Support for the boy seemingly seen brutally beaten in a viral video is coming in an unlikely form, and from an unlikely place.
The very adults-only online dating site HotRussianBrides.com (Warning: What's after that link is exactly what it sounds like) says it's looking to stage a $10,000 prize fight — a legal, supervised boxing match — against the man apparently seen beating the teen.
But there's a catch: Not just anyone will be accepted into the fight.
"We'll only pay the winner. And we want to make sure that we pick someone who's going to win," Paul Cookson of AdArmyGroup.com, representing the Russian brides site, told New Jersey 101.5 "We don't want a guy who's a child abuser, who's a weasel, who's a coward in our opinion, to benefit from this fight. My hope is that we're going to find someone easily capable of knocking the s--- out of this guy."
It's the latest — and perhaps most unusual — development in a story that shocked many last week, after Millville resident Kevin Wise posted the video to his Facebook page Tuesday. In the video, a bearded man can be seen repeatedly hitting and kicking the teen.
"I will destroy you," the man says. "Are you going to the cops? I'll f---ing kill you."
It's not clear who initially recorded the video. Wise told New Jersey 101.5 it was provided to him — a friend of a friend who may have had original possession of the video was afraid to post it, and was seeking someone who could do so in his or her place.
"I posted it because (the man) was bullying him," Wise said. "Dude is like 15. We don't condone bullying around here. I had to let it be known."
The video had been viewed on Wise's Facebook page more than 5 million times as of Sunday morning. Wise posted it with the message "SHARE!!! #STOPBULLYING2016 !!!!!!"
In the original video, the faces of both the man and the teen can be seen. New Jersey 101.5 is, for now, posting a censored version with the faces blurred, as no one has been charged in the incident and police haven't publicly confirmed the names of any of those involved.
West Deptford police have said they're aware of the video and investigating. Police have also said they know the identities of all of those involved, but so far, haven't announced any charges.
"The juvenile in the video does not reside with nor have any contact with the other subject in the video," police wrote in a statement Friday. "The juvenile is safe and his family has requested that their privacy be respected. We again appreciate everyone's concern and we will release information regarding the outcome of the investigation when it is complete."
Cookson told New Jersey 101.5 the video came to his attention through a client, and he reached out to HotRussianBrides.com with the idea for a prize fight.
"When I saw it, I was absolutely disgusted by it," he said.
Part of the proceeds would go to child-abuse-prevention organizations, Cookson said, though he said it hasn't yet been determined which groups would benefit.
Why HotRussianBrides.com? Cookson said the site was already working on other charity efforts — including a project to give dolls to orphans.
"Right away, HotRussianBrides said, 'Sure we'll put up $10,000 to the winner,'" Cookson said.
A PR statement from HotRussianBrides.com identifies the man seen in the video by the same name in several online posts about the incident. New Jersey 101.5 has not been able to confirm that identification and is omitting references to the name.
"We think that beating up on a child as depicted in the video is a cowardly act and we'd like to set up an opportunity for [name omitted] to fight someone his own size and that is prepared and willing to fight back," the company said in a statement sent to New Jersey 101.5.
The man is reputed in some of those online postings to be a mixed-martial arts fighter — but again, those statements couldn't be verified. Cookson said he and HotRussianBrides.com have not been in touch with the man in the video, and are hoping people who know him can ask him to get in touch via email@example.com.
West Deptford Police, in posts to their Facebook page, have been discouraging retaliation against the man involved: "We ask that you refrain from posting any threats towards any parties via social media or otherwise," they wrote last week.
Cookson said the prize fight would be held to legal standards, with doctors and possibly even local police supervising. A location has not been selected, but he said it would likely be somewhere near the original incident, in southern New Jersey.
He said in the event more details come out exonerating the man — for instance, if the fight was staged or there were other unknown circumstances somehow justifying it — the offer for the boxing match would be rescinded.
Cookson said he and his client aren't looking to interfere in the police investigation — they're hopeful the man will be charged, and might be able to participate in the fight after serving a sentence.
Wise feels otherwise:
"I don't want him to get locked up," Wise said. "I want to see him get his a-- whooped."