Petition filed over bullying case

By Katherine Wartell

A Manhattan father is petitioning the Riley County District Court to compel the Riley County Attorney’s office to take on a case involving his son and another boy he describes as “a notorious bully” who should be criminally charged with battery.

The petition, called a mandamus action, was filed by Craig Comas, on behalf of his 10-year-old son after the County Attorney’s office decided not to file charges against an 11-year-old boy. In documents filed with the suit, the father said the 11-year-old had injured his son during a Boys and Girls Club event in June.

According to the petition, the alleged bully struck Comas’ son at the day camp after his son “tagged” the boy during a game. Comas said the attack caused his son considerable pain.

The boy was disciplined by employees at the camp, but was allowed to return and participate in an older age group.

In court documents, Comas said that he filed a police report in relation to the incident after day camp staff members informed him of the attack, although staff would not give the accused child’s name. 

The report was forwarded to the County Attorney’s office, but Comas said, he received a letter a few days later from Assistant Riley County Attorney James Garrison stating that criminal charges would not be filed.

In his petition, Comas said Garrison indicated that it was at the discretion of the County Attorney’s office to not file charges even when a crime has been committed and that Garrison concluded an 11-year-old boy should be not burdened for life with a criminal conviction for battery.

County Atty. Barry Wilkerson said Tuesday he would not comment publicly at this time, although he indicated his office would file a formal response to the court suit later this week.

Comas also did not want to elaborate on his allegations Tuesday. But in the suit he filed, Comas said Garrison conceded in their conversation that the boy had committed battery. He argued that the 11-year-old boy also bullied other children in a sadistic manner, including sucker-punching one child, and bending back the fingers of another boy in a manner commonly intended to break them.

In the petition, he said Wilkerson supported Garrison’s decision to not immediately file, telling Comas that “we would be filing several hundred of these cases if we filed on every 11 or 12 year old who hit another kid.” He said Wilkerson added, however, that, if there is a history of violence or if displays of aggressive violence continue, “then that changes the equation.”

According to Comas, Wilkerson said that his office was checking to see whether there were other reports of violence committed by the 11-year-old boy.

Comas acted as his own attorney in bringing the legal action. He asked the court to order Wilkerson to bring charges against the alleged bully.

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