Police: Bullies tattooed kid

Last modified: 5/21/2010 12:00:00 AM
In what the police are calling an atrocious hate crime, a 14-year-old Concord High School freshman with intellectual challenges was bullied into getting lewd tattoos on his buttocks by a group he wanted to be friends with, court records show.

Four Concord men were arrested yesterday and Wednesday on a range of charges in connection with the May 10 assault that left the victim with "Poop D---" across his entire buttocks. A fifth person - a 15-year-old high school student - will also be charged in connection with the case, police Lt. Keith Mitchell said.

Inside the dimly lit basement of a Holt Street duplex, the men told the victim to kneel against a weight bench as one of the men used a marker to outline the tattoo, which also included depictions of a heart and male genitalia, the police said. Then, they took turns using a tattoo gun to etch dark ink into his skin, the police said.

Two of the men arrested yesterday have connections to white supremacy, prosecutors said. One of them also threatened to assault the victim with his genitals if he didn't keep quiet, police records show.

"These crimes were committed with huge cruelty and insensitivity to a victim who was emotionally vulnerable and intellectually challenged," Prosecutor Scott Murray said yesterday at an arraignment in Concord District Court.

For about a week leading up to the incident, Blake VanNest, 18, of 2 Jennings Drive, promised the victim that others would stop bullying him if he got a tattoo on his butt, the police said.

"(VanNest) knew the victim was younger, unpopular and frequently picked on, and that (VanNest) had taken advantage of him based on this," Concord police Detective Wade Brown wrote in an affidavit.

The victim said he wanted a Celtic cross with his girlfriend's name on his arm. VanNest told the victim he could have that once he got a tattoo on his butt, the police said.

About noon May 10, VanNest, the victim and a number of others skipped school to loiter on West Washington Street, which is at the rear of the building, the police said. A high school student who lives on the street, Travis Johnston, 18, let them into the basement of his mother's home through a wooden bulkhead door.

They waited for Ryan Fisk, 19, of 243 Pleasant St., to arrive with a tattoo gun, the police said.

The victim was told to refer to Fisk only as "Daddy," according to a police affidavit. VanNest showed the victim a swastika on his chest that Fisk designed.

When Fisk arrived with the tattoo gun inside a black and silver case, the victim got nervous, he told the police. He asked what would happen if he ran. VanNest said he would chase after the victim and catch him, police records said.

"(VanNest) told him that he was going to get the tattoo one way or another," Brown's affidavit said. "Blake then took out his penis and pointed it at (the victim) telling him to pull down his pants or he would touch (the victim) with his penis."

When the victim kneeled against the bench, Donald Wyman, 20, used a red permanent marker to sketch an outline of the tattoo, according to police records.

Fisk soon began etching, court records show.

For about 20 or 30 minutes, Fisk worked to draw the first five letters in block print. When the victim complained about the pain, Fisk said he'd punch him in the face if he didn't stop squirming, according to police records.

After a time, Fisk got frustrated and handed off the tattoo gun to VanNest, who finished the last three letters, the police said.

The police believe there were others watching but have not yet identified them.

When the tattoo was done, the victim was told to go and show it to a crowd outside.

They told him there would be no time for his Celtic cross. According to the police, Fisk then gave the victim marijuana as a reward.

Fisk then sold the tattoo gun to a juvenile for $30, the police said.

By the next day, pictures and rumors of the tattoo had spread throughout the high school, including to one of the victim's teachers who alerted the school resource officer, according to court records.

Two detectives began investigating later that day.

After a series of interviews, the police lodged a number of charges against VanNest, Fisk, Wyman and Johnston. A juvenile will also face charges in juvenile court, according to the police.

Joanne Johnston, the mother of one man who was charged, said local teenagers consistently loiter outside of her house. She questioned police accounts of the event, saying the victim willingly received the tattoo.

"He's the captain of his own ship. Nobody made the kid do that," she said.

Johnston said she was in Massachusetts when the crime happened. When she returned home, she found ink-stained paper towels in the recycling bin and metal folding chairs arranged in the basement.

"What are you going to do, arrest every bystander and call it hazing?" she said.

At an arraignment in district court yesterday, Judge Gerard Boyle entered not guilty pleas on six misdemeanors against Fisk, including tattooing without a license, criminal threatening and breach of bail. No plea was entered on a felony-level drug dealing charge.

Murray said Fisk had three tattoos of swastikas and Confederate flags on his body. Murray said the victim was targeted because of his mental disability. "This is a hate crime," Murray said.

A public defender assigned to the case said Fisk regretted those tattoos two days after he got them. Tracy Scaverelli said Fisk has tried to remove them on his own.

In a separate hearing, VanNest, dressed in jeans and high top sneakers, said little when confronted with his own charges, including the same six misdemeanors Fisk is facing and another charge for indecent exposure.

At both hearings, women who identified themselves as the mothers of Fisk and VanNest told the judge they had no knowledge of any tattoos on their children.

Boyle set bail at $35,000 cash for each.

Johnston and Wyman were each charged with endangering the welfare of a child. They were released on personal recognizance bail.

Concord High School Principal Gene Connolly said all of the men and the juvenile who were students or involved in programs at the school have been suspended for 10 days, the maximum punishment he can hand out.

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