Harris County prosecutors want to know what led to the suicide of gay 13-year-old Asher Brown

This just in from The Associated Press:

HOUSTON — Prosecutors said Friday they will look into what led to the suicide of a 13-year-old Houston boy whose parents say was relentlessly bullied at his middle school for two years because of his religion and sexual orientation.

Asher Brown’s parents, who claim school officials ignored their pleas for help, said they hope “justice will be served” by the investigation by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

“Once they find out what’s been hidden, we would want the people responsible to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said Brown’s stepfather, David Truong.

Read the full story here.

—  John Wright

Does Asher Brown’s suicide indicate a pattern of ignoring anti-gay bullying in Houston district?

Asher Brown

Asher Brown’s suicide marks the second time in less than a year that officials in Houston’s Cypress-Fairbanks school district have been accused of failing to respond to complaints of anti-gay bullying until it was too late.

Brown, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Cy-Fair ISD’s Hamilton Middle School, took his own life last Thursday, the same day he had come out to his stepfather as gay:

The 13-year-old’s parents said they had complained about the bullying to Hamilton Middle School officials during the past 18 months, but claimed their concerns fell on deaf ears.

David and Amy Truong said they made several visits to the school to complain about the harassment, and Amy Truong said she made numerous phone calls to the school that were never returned.

Last November, a freshman at Cy-Fair ISD’s Langham Creek High School was beaten with a metal pipe in what he said was an anti-gay attack. Jayron Martin, 16, said at the time that he had begged two principals and his bus driver to intervene before the attack, but they failed to do so.

Hours before the incident, Martin said a friend told him a group was planning to attack him. The teen said he talked with two administrators about his concerns. The administrators took a written statement from him, said Martin.

“I sat down in the cafeteria and I started writing the letter and so then I handed it to them and they said, ‘We are going to call y’all down and stuff like that,’” he said.

Martin said he was never called to the office, and the administrator didn’t call his mother.

Equality Texas, the statewide gay rights group, issued an action alert Tuesday calling on people to contact their legislators and urge them to pass safe schools legislation that protects LGBTQ youth. In particular, Equality Texas targeted members whose state representatives’ districts include Cy Fair ISD: HD 126, Patricia Harless; HD 130, Allen Fletcher; HD 132, Bill Callegari; HD 133, Kristi Thibaut; HD 135, Gary Elkins; and HD 138, Dwayne Bohac.

Also, Change.org has launched a petition addressed to Cy-Fair Superintendent David Anthony, spokeswoman Kelli Durham and the district as a whole. But if you’d like to give them a call instead of signing the petition, here’s a full list of district staff phone numbers.

UPDATE: Below is a follow-up story that aired Tuesday about Asher’s suicide and the district’s response:

—  John Wright

Craigslist police blotter: Bryan pastor in gay sex scandal; Azle man faces charges over fake ad

While we’re on the subject of hookup site-related crime stories in Texas, we’ve got two more to tell you about.

One involves a 51-year-old closeted church pastor from Bryan who’s accused of meeting other men online and forcing them to have sex with him.

According to KBXT.com, Pastor George Randall Scott resigned from the Bethel Temple Church, where he had served since 1990, following his arrest last Tuesday.

In one case, Scott met his alleged victim on Craiglist and posed as a 17-year-old as they exchanged 12 e-mails over two days. Many of Scott’s e-mails came from a church computer:

Eventually the victim agreed to let Randy Scott come to his house but, “When the person showed up, it was an older man. The man told him that he was the stepfather of the person the victim had been emailing. The subject said that he is protective of his stepson and has set up his stepson’s email to forward him all of the emails that they have been exchanging. The victim said that the man told him that he is going to call the Police unless the victim pleasured him sexually,” court documents stated.

KBXT reports that Scott’s former congregation is “shocked but supportive.” From Stuart Quartemont, chairman of the Bethel Temple Church’s administrative board:

“On behalf of Bethel Temple we express our love, prayers and support for the Scott family. … One of the things the Lord has been sharing with us the last couple of day is we shouldn’t keep our eyes on circumstances but keep our eyes on Him and as we continue to focus on Him, He’ll take care off all the circumstances we go through.”

Our other Craiglist case was written up in The Dallas Morning News a few days back. It involves an Azle man who faces online harassment charges after posting a fake personal ad in the “men seeking men” section of the site.

The suspect, Clark Friesen, reportedly got in a heated e-mail dispute with the victim, Michael Martin, over a boat Martin had posted for sale. So Friesen posted the fake personal ad using Scott’s e-mail address, and as The DMN cleverly puts it, Martin “soon was hearing from dozens of men who were after more than his 20-foot Bayliner.”

“As soon as I’d hang up, it would ring again,” said Martin, who is married with a teenage stepdaughter. “I know if I ever go that direction, I won’t be lonely.”

He’s right, he won’t be lonely. He might just meet a pastor from Bryan.

—  John Wright