A Virginia high school boy who spent nine days in the hospital after a brutal antigay attack is being charged with assault because he reportedly snapped and made the mistake of throwing the first punch.
Richmond's Channel 12 News reported that Eric Martin was attacked by at least four other boys who left him with a serious concussion and multiple broken bones.
"A head injury," noted Eric's mother Mary Martin. "A broken hand. That's not just a fight. That's a beating. That's a vicious beating."
Mary Martin said that the gang assault was the culmination of a prolonged campaign of bullying, in which Martin's tormentors regularly showered him with antigay slurs and epithets and catcalled him as they shadowed him through the halls of Highland Springs High School in Henrico.
The irate mom said that her son may have thrown the first punch, but school officials had consistently turned a blind eye to Eric's constant abuse at the hands of certain boys at school.
Family advocate Tammy Mottola is working with the school district on behalf of the Martins.
"It's always the perpetrators that get away with the crime," she said. "When the victims have finally had enough, after being verbally attacked and bullied for years and they snap...they are the ones that are penalized."
Eric Martin was barred from returning to school pending a violence assessment and a signed confession that he threatened the school, which Eric claims he never did and which school officials admit they never heard firsthand.
Motola and Mary Martin have made initial legal moves toward a possible suit against the school.
"I feel like we have to set the tone," said Motola to Channel 12. "We are not going to be bullied."
Eric has been allowed to attend a new school in the district, but is still facing two assault charges from the Henrico Police Department.
Mary Martin said that to bolster her son's spirits, she has established a Letters to Eric program, where supporters can write to him at P.O. Box 993, Sandston, Va. 23150.
Motola said, "It's just to encourage Eric to know that he is loved by many and that he is supported by literally thousands of people."
Watch video about this story, embedded below via Richmond's Channel 12 News: