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Scientology Crime Syndicate

http://www.texascitysun.com/NF/omf/tcsundaily/story.html?[rkey=0001630

SF teens may face tougher 'hate crime' punishment

By Clarissa Pruitt
The Texas City Sun

Published June 01, 2000 10:51 PM CDT

SANTA FE - Three Santa Fe High School students charged with terroristic threats earlier this month may face the tougher consequences associated with a hate crime, according to the district attorney's office.

While the Texas Penal Code does not have a hate crime statute, Assistant District Attorney Ella Anderson said the Code of Criminal Procedure allows prosecutors to add an "enhancement paragraph" to charges of terroristic threats if the offense was "committed because of bias or prejudice."

"What we did when we originally pled this case as terroristic threats was put an enhancement paragraph because we believe the crimes were committed because of bias or prejudice," she said. "We're going to ask the judge to enhance whatever punishment is given under juvenile law."

The enhancement paragraph would require adults sentenced to probation to serve time in jail, but because the students are under the age of 18 - two are 16 and one is 15 - they can only be sentenced to time within the Texas Youth Commission.

The three were arrested May 17 for sending "hate mail" and threatening a younger Jewish junior high student because of his religious beliefs.

The student they targeted was the 13-year-old son of Galveston County Sheriff's Office Major Eric Nevelow, who said his son has endured the torment for more than two years.

"It started when he was in seventh grade, and the first time the kids surrounded him on the school grounds yelling 'Hail Hitler' and 'Hitler missed one. He should have killed you, too,'" Nevelow said. "Then, there were a couple of other situations prior to his bar mitzvah in October 1999 when his class was talking about foreign languages and he was showing a kid how to write a letter in Hebrew. One of the kids came over and said 'I'll show you a foreign language' and drew a swastika on my son's book cover."

Nevelow said he called the school district and his son even took the book covers to his principal, but they never heard of any disciplinary action being taken against the tormenters. He said the kids continued to taunt his son, both at school by flashing swastikas in his face and on the way home by calling him "dirty Jew," but his son continued to ignore it until a particularly brutal verbal attack on May 16.

On the way home, Nevelow said, the boys threatened to hang his son.

"He was emotionally upset when he got off the bus and we called the Santa Fe Police Department to file charges against the boys," Nevelow said. "I even called my son's principal and the only answer I got was that I needed to contact transportation.

"Since that incident I have not heard one word from the school district."

Santa Fe Independent School District Superintendent Richard Ownby said the May 16 incident was the only incident to his knowledge involving the three high school students. He added that only one of Nevelow's son's teachers could recall the boy ever complained of being tormented.

"Another teacher vaguely remembered when one kid had given him the 'Hail Hitler' salute and they had talked to that boy," he said.

He added that Nevelow was told to talk to the transportation department regarding the incident that happened on the bus because "the transportation department does the discipline for incidents that occur on the bus."

"The transportation director said she talked to the bus driver, but the bus driver hadn't heard any of those conversations," Ownby said.

Nevelow, however, said SFPD officers took statements from several students on the bus at the same time the threats were made and nearly all of them said they had heard the boys threaten his son.

(clarissa.pruitt@texascitysun.com)

2000 Texas City Sun. All rights reserved.

http://www.texascitysun.com/NF/omf/tcsundaily/story.html?[rkey=0001630

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