NORWOOD, Colo. —
"They would say, 'What's been stuck up your butt today?"' said his mother. "Things were posted on Facebook, like 'Rot in hell, liar!"'
As word spread about the incident, townspeople turned against the principal and his family.
"When I was in school there might have been bullying, but there was none of this crap about telling the school," said Jennifer Long, a waitress at the Hitchin' Post Cowboy Bar, a popular eatery on the town's main street. "How you going to be tough if you don't get bullied sometimes?" she said.
Long's husband James Eilmann agreed.
"I got bullied as a kid because I had long hair and earrings," said Eilmann, a 45-year-old carpenter. "I played football, baseball and soccer and the older kids bullied me. But we always shook hands and it would be over with. But today, you can get prosecuted. It has all gone too far."
Frustrated by the response of town and school officials, the principal finally reported the incident to the Denver police. The police sent investigators to Norwood and on April 23 they arrested the three boys, charging them as juveniles with kidnapping, sexual assault and false imprisonment, according to the district attorney's office.
On news of the arrests, anger exploded in Norwood, and it was aimed squarely at the principal and his 13-year-old son. The school board held a series of private meetings with parents who clamored for the principal's dismissal.
"It should have been left alone," said Sheldon Cline, a 54-year-old electrician. "It should have been handled through the system here. If you publicize it, it gets blown out of proportion."
Marie Fouche, a substitute teacher at the school at the time, went to the school board to speak in support of the principal.