Alleged NH bully apologizes for tattoo incident
CONCORD, N.H. -- A New Hampshire teen accused of bullying a classmate into getting an obscene tattoo says he feels remorse for the victim.
Police say Travis Johnston, 18, watched while others tattooed profanities on a 14-year-old classmate’s buttocks May 10.
Johnston was arrested along with Blake Vannest, Ryan Fisk, and Donald Wyman. They are charged with endangering the welfare of a minor. Vannest and Fisk also are charged with two counts of assault, tattooing without a license, criminal threatening and breach of bail, and other charges. Wyman and Johnston face conspiracy charges. An unidentified 15-year-old is also charged.
Johnston said he regrets being part of the incident.
“I regret it. I wish I wasn’t a part of it. I feel bad for the kid,” Johnston said.
Johnston, who just moved to the area last fall, said he didn’t know the other suspects that well. On the day of the alleged incident, Johnston said they asked to use his basement.
Johnston’s mother, Joanne, said she wasn’t home when the alleged tattooing occurred. She said she knew something was wrong when she got back.
Police said Vannest and Fisk made the learning-disabled boy kneel on a weight bench as they tattooed the vulgar words and items. Court papers said Vannest threatened to beat up the boy if he refused, but promised to stop bullying him if he agreed to the plan.
Joanne Johnston said her son was trying to fit into a new high school.
“It turned into a horrible mess,” she said.
Travis went on to say he had also been picked on for much of his life.
“I feel bad. I wish I could take it all back,” he said.
Vannest and Fisk refused comment.
The victim’s family issued a statement Friday that reads in part: "This is a very emotional time for our family, as we are still trying to absorb what was done to our child... In the coming days, we intend to make additional statements in order to raise awareness of the growing national epidemic of bullying in our schools in the hopes of preventing a similar tragedy."
Johnston said he would like to meet with the victim and his family to apologize. He also said he would like to try to help with the medical costs associated with removing the tattoo.
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