Move over, knockout game. There's another form of youth violence making headlines.
It's called "bull-penning," and it goes something like this: "One guy comes up to you, says something like 'nice tie' and...just punch[es] you in the face while the kid behind you would push you into that punch."
Those are the words of Jeff Del Bagno. His son Jeffrey, 12, was allegedly the victim of the violence in September 2012 when he was reportedly attacked by members of his Inman Middle School football team in a bull-penning incident.
A doctor says it almost killed him. "Jeffrey's nose was broken in three places, deviated septum, 95% of his sinuses crushed and caved in, he was left with 5% breathing capacity," the elder Del Bagno told WXIA-TV in Atlanta, which added that the doctor's report says Jeffrey was beaten "within millimeters" of his life.
"One of the prime instigators of the attack...came up to Jeffrey very nicely [after the beating] and said, 'I hope you learned your lesson '(expletive)'!" Del Bagno said, adding another disturbing allegation: "You want to know the extent to the medical care they gave my son? The coach threw him a towel said go into the bathroom, take care of your nose."
Now the Del Bagnos have filed a lawsuit against Atlanta Public Schools and school administrators over the attack they say could have been stopped.
"He was bullied virtually every day he was at Inman, threatened," Del Bagno told WXIA, adding that despite being a bigger kid, he is gentle and lived in fear.
The lawsuit references five emails to Inman administrators about "student bullying and harassment" against Jeffrey. The September 2012 incident allegedly happened when football coaches had left the players unsupervised.
While Atlanta Public Schools is not commenting because of pending litigation, WXIA obtained recordings of school officials talking about the incident that Jeffrey's father secretly taped, frustrated that he couldn't get access to surveillance video from the school.
"I looked at it," Inman Middle School assistant principal Michael Ashley is heard saying on tape during a meeting on October 30, 2012, three weeks after the attack "Laboriously, I looked at it, every angle up down." Ashley reportedly said he didn't see anything, but the Del Bagnos wanted to see it for themselves.
And now the tapes are gone.
The day after the incident, WXIA reported, Del Bagno emailed a request to preserve surveillance video; a later response to an open records request stated that the videos no longer exist.
Part of the lawsuit accuses Atlanta Public Schools and administrators of "a cover up" and "deliberately exposing their son to bullying," WXIA said, adding that APS denies all allegations.
In addition, APS says it acted in good faith regarding applicable law, and its attorney accused Jeffrey of throwing the first punch and stated, "There had been no previous history of bullying."
Still, after the incident, WXIA said the school acknowledged there were problem students on the football team.
Here's the report from WXIA: