Investigators Say Group Promised Not To Pick On Boy If He Complied
A 14-year-old boy was coerced into getting a tattoo by others who said they wouldn't pick on him at school if he allowed it to happen, police said.
Police said that a group of young men enticed the boy to a residence on Holt Street in Concord to receive a tattoo. The boy was tattooed against his will, police said.
The victim was described as a special-needs student at Concord High. Police said the tattoo consisted of an image and two obscene words and was tattooed on the boy's buttock.
Police said the boy was tattooed on May 10. The boy told them he thought it would be private, but the next day, students in the school were passing around pictures of the tattoo and calling him a name that referred to the content of the tattoo. A teacher overheard a conversation about it and, after talking to the boy, called police.
"You have a crime committed by a number of individuals, targeting a 14-year-old who is, as I understand, intellectually challenged and emotionally vulnerable, and was targeted for that reason," said prosecutor Scott Murray.
Blake VanNest, 18, of Concord, was charged with two counts of assault, endangering the welfare of a minor, tattooing without a license, indecent exposure and criminal threatening.
Donald Wyman, 20, of Concord, was charged with criminal liability for the conduct of another and conspiracy to commit endangering the welfare of a minor.
Ryan Fisk, 19, of Concord, was charged with two counts of assault, endangering the welfare of a minor, tattooing without a license, sale of a controlled drug and criminal threatening.
Travis Johnston, 18, of Concord, was charged with conspiracy to commit endangering the welfare of a minor.
Police said a 15-year-old Concord juvenile will be charged later in connection with the incident.
A medical procedure will be required to remove the tattoo, police said.
According to a police affidavit, none of the suspects knew the victim's name, referring to him by a nickname he was known by throughout school. Police said VanNest admitted that the boy was unpopular and frequently picked on and that he was able to take advantage of him because of that.
The boy told police that he didn't want to get the tattoo, but he said VanNest told him he would get it whether he liked it or not. The boy said he eventually agreed because VanNest told him he wouldn't be picked on any more and that he could get another tattoo that he wanted.
The boy told police that once he went to the basement of the home, he again said he didn't want the tattoo, but VanNest threatened him.
"I'm not a put-your-head-in-the-sand mom, saying, 'Oh, not my kid,'" said Patricia VanNest, Blake VanNest's mother. "I don't feel that way. I think he has to take responsibility if the charges are true, and if they are not, well, he will have his day in court."
In the affidavit, police said the boy had apparent learning disabilities and self-esteem issues, which made him a target at school. Police said a pattern of bullying put the boy in a mental state in which we would agree to do anything to make it stop.
"You put yourself in this kid's position, your heart has to go out to him," said Sgt. John Thomas. "It's gotten so bad that you have to subject your body to being scarred for life, just to be accepted by your peers."
Fisk was arraigned Thursday afternoon and ordered held on $35,000 cash only bail. Prosecutors said Fisk has a swastika tattoo and white supremacy beliefs, but a defense attorney said he regrets the tattoo and has tried to remove it.
Blake VanNest was also arraigned and ordered held on $35,000 bail Thursday, and prosecutors said he also has a swastika tattoo.
VanNest's mother said she's shocked at the charges, but more horrified that prosecutors said her son has a swastika tattoo. Fisk's mother found out the same detail about her son in court but denied it.
"He does not have a swastika and is not a white supremacist," she said. "He's a good boy. He's made a stupid mistake. If anyone was bullying, he would step in and break it up."
Prosecutors said Wyman outlined the tattoo on the boy, and Fisk and VanNest did the tattooing.
It's illegal in New Hampshire to tattoo anyone under the age of 18. State law also requires a tattoo artist to be licensed.News by SoulRiser on May 23, 2010 @ 6:53 PM