Gay-bashed 8th grader says he was blinded by bully

June 20, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Verena Dobnik
Associated Press

A Brooklyn eighth-grader says he's blind in one eye after he was attacked by bullies shouting anti-gay epithets in a school cafeteria.

"I can't see from my right eye — nothing," 14-year-old Kardin Ulysse said Tuesday, speaking in a youthful, somber voice. "And I want to see."

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Wearing a red baseball cap, with his eye covered by a white patch under glasses, the teen appeared briefly at a news conference in the offices of his attorney, Sanford Rubenstein. The lawyer handed out copies of the formal "notice of claim" preceding a $15 million lawsuit against the city Department of Education alleging negligent supervision.

Pierre Ulysse, the boy's father, described the June 5 assault on his son in the cafeteria of the Roy H. Mann Junior High School in Brooklyn's Bergen Beach neighborhood.

At about 8 a.m., before classes started, Kardin was approached by two boys who "were kicking him, punching in the face many, many times," with one holding him down by his arms, Pierre Ulysse said. Kardin tried to escape but was pinned down again in another part of the cafeteria.

The father said his son has repeatedly been taunted in past months with homophobic language, though he's not gay.

"They were calling him a whole lot of names," Pierre Ulysse said.

The youth did nothing to provoke the assaults, his father said, but "I guess they just don't like him, somehow; they're always battering him, because he keeps to himself, he's a loner."
Authorities are investigating the incident to determine whether it might be classified as a hate crime.

The attack that left Kardin without his right eye was not the first time he was hurt by school bullies. Last October, he was hospitalized with a left eye injury after a fellow student demanded his money, then jumped him and broke his glasses. He recovered from that injury.

Doctors may try to perform an eye transplant at some point in the future, the family said.

They've complained for months to the school about the boy being bullied, but after the latest attack, Pierre Ulysse said he got only one call from officials that he missed because he was in the hospital with his son.

"I feel the school system is not working for us," he said. "I think they should do much, much more. There should be adequate supervision."

Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said Tuesday that the attack was taken very seriously. She said two students were arrested and face disciplinary action.

Kardin is to enter high school in the fall, but "he's afraid of going to school again, he's scared they're going to beat him up again," his father said.

The teen is having nightmares and can't sleep, "and he's always asking me, 'Daddy, will I ever see again in that eye?'"

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