As outrage continues over video footage showing a bus monitor from Greece, New York, being abused by middle school children, the kids at the center of the controversy are speaking out. On Thursday night, CNN's Anderson Cooper read official statements from the children that purportedly showcased their remorse -- apologies that victim Karen Klein flatly rejected.
(1) These apologies are an interesting, new element in the bizarre incident that has attracted mass attention and support for Klein. The Huffington Post provides a recap of the comments that were released to CNN and read on the air to Klein last night:
"I feel really bad about what I did," [Weslie], one of the boys in the video, said in a statement issued to the show by police. "I wish I had never done those things. If that had happened to someone in my family, like my mother or grandmother, I would be really mad at the people who did that to them."
"I am so sorry for the way I treated you," Josh, another one of the boys, said in a statement. "When I saw the video I was disgusted and could not believe I did that. I am sorry for being so mean and I will never treat anyone this way again."
After hearing Josh's statement, Klein declined to accept his apology and noted that he is a troublemaker who regularly makes problems. She also rejected Weslie's comments as well, going on to say that she's still waiting for official apologies from the four children involved in the abusive incident. So far, not one of the boys has approached her or reached out. Admittedly, Klein says she may need more time before seeing them face-to-face.
Watch the CNN interview during which these issues are discussed, below:
While the kids have been quiet, at least one of the parents has come forward to comment. On Thursday, Robert Helm, Weslie's father, spoke to "Inside Edition," where he expressed surprise at his child's ability to act out so horrendously toward the 68-year-old grandmother of eight.
"It was very hard to watch that and even tougher as a father to see your child treat someone like that. It broke my heart," Helm said, going on to highlight the punishment that his son will receive. "It's not just going to stop at 'You're grounded, you don't get TV.' This is much bigger than that. This is something for a professional to interview Weslie and find out what the underlining problem is."
However, (2) Helm has also said that his child has suffered enough. Considering the intense controversy and resulting media coverage, he believes that the situation has gone too far.
"My family’s received death threats. He’s a 13-year-old kid," he said. "It was a stupid mistake and he’s paying for it but I just think it’s a little out of control."
Some agree with Helm, while others remain discontented -- some to profoundly extreme levels -- with what was observed on the video. The Greece Public School District and the families, alike, continue to receive threats. The Democrat & Chronicle recapped the details surrounding just how intense the response has been to the children and families at the center of the incident (emphasis added):
The names of some of the alleged perpetrators — all juveniles who have yet to be charged with any crimes — and their parents and details about where they live ended up online. And since Wednesday, they’ve been barraged by death threats and harassing phone calls.
Greece police Capt. Steve Chatterton said Thursday that (3) someone even made a false 911 call claiming there were people being held hostage inside one of the students’ homes. He said officers have been assigned to run special patrols down the youths’ streets to ensure their safety.
“We have a cellphone of one of the boys and he’s received more than 1,000 missed calls and more than 1,000 text messages threatening him,” he said. “Threats to overcome threats do no good.”
One woman even claims that her son has been falsely accused of assaulting Klein (her child doesn't even ride the bus that the incident occurred on). As a result, he has been harassed on Facebook and has also received death threats. Klein has called for the counter-harassment to stop and has expressed her sadness in knowing that the kids at the center of the dispute are receiving such harsh treatment from the public.
During her interview with Cooper, (4) Klein also expressed doubt surrounding the massive sum of money being collected in her name. Currently, the number is approaching $500,000 (as of 9:40 a.m. ET on Friday it was at $471,216).
"I can't believe it. That much?," she rhetorically asked Cooper. "I don't know, I just don't feel like it'll come to me anyway, so I don't think too much about it. It's a nice gesture, but I just don't know if it's for real or not."
While Klein can't quite be sure of the authenticity of the money that is slated to come to her (last night, The Blaze delved into this issue as well), (5) she's headed to Disneyland -- and that's a fact. Cooper told the elderly woman that Southwest Airlines will be sending her and nine others to the destination, located in Anaheim, California.
As far as punishment for the boys goes, while Klein says she isn't sure about criminal charges, she has indicated that she will not file them and that she would rather see the children punished in different ways. While the district hasn't yet announced how officials will handle the situation, (6) Klein would like to see the children lose the ability to ride the bus and play sports for a year. She also talked about the potential of community service as an option for the boys.