A man accused of bullying a disabled child says his actions weren’t aimed at the little girl, they were directed at her parents who continually called his son names.
Two warring families are drawing the public’s attention to their children’s fighting as one boy’s father is accused of mocking a 10-year-old disabled girl.
Tricia and Michael Knight say their next-door neighbor, William Bailey, was making fun of their 10-year-old daughter, Hope Holcomb, who has cerebral palsy and walks with crutches. The Knights have a video of Bailey and his son dragging one leg as they walked from the school bus, which Holcomb also rides.
Bailey said he wasn’t mocking Holcomb.
“I love that little girl,” he said. “I never even meant that or anything at all toward little Hope. I don’t make fun of anybody with a disability.
“I wasn’t making fun of anyone. They just kept calling my little boy (names) and I reacted badly. You have to defend your son, your children ...”
Stark County Sheriff’s deputies have been to both homes repeatedly.
“We are aware that there are neighbor problems between the families ... name-calling, loud music and other violations,” said Sgt. Terry Curry. “We will address any violation of the Ohio law, any incident that may occur.”
Both sides have complained to Canton city prosecutors but no criminal charges have been filed.
Bailey, who has five children, insisted that when Michael Knight’s mother, Marie Prince, shot the video, he was reacting to the Knight’s endless name-calling, and that the Knights were at the bus stop, too, waiting for their three children. He said the Knights continually taunt his son, 9-year-old Joseph Bailey, who suffers from seizures and attention deficit hyperactive disorders.
The Knights have taken their plight to a Cleveland TV station WJW Fox 8, which first aired their story.
Donning red shirts emblazoned with the words “Stop the Bullying,” the Knights say they want their message to reach everyone, and that they are encouraging everyone living in the Canton South School district to wear similar shirts when they meet next week with Bailey and the Canton City Prosecutor’s Office. The parties were to sit down with city prosecutors to see if charges are possible or a resolution can be found.
In the wake of the TV reports and social media, some members of the public have rallied behind Hope Holcomb. The family was expected to be on Friday’s “Nikolina & Jeremiah Morning Show”on WDJQ Q92.
The Knights say they have complained repeatedly about Hope being bullied and are tired of the attacks.
“We’re not doing this for handouts, donations and any other monetary items of any sort,” Michael Knight said.
“We just want the bullying and the ridiculous behavior from the kids and the adults to stop.”
NEIGHBORS’ FIGHT MADE PUBLIC
Page 2 of 2 - Bailey said he has had to keep his children home from school after his daughter was attacked by a student believing, after seeing the TV news report, that he had mocked a disabled child.
He and his family said their elderly grandparents are being harassed and family members have been receiving death threats, he said.
“They were down at the bus stop yelling ‘retard’ and I told my son, ‘If they want to call us ‘retard,’ we’ll show them a ‘retard.’ And we walked to the car from the bus like that. I did that with my son,” he said of the video.
Bailey said the felt terrible about his behavior and offered to apologize after the Knights called sheriff’s deputies to complain. He was told not to bother.
Neighbors blame both families.
WHAT THE OTHER NEIGHBORS SAY
Ray Burdette, who lives about 500 feet away, said both families’ children play together one minute and fight the next.
“Their daughters play together and ride bikes together, their sons ride bikes together, the (Knight) kids swim in the (Bailey) kids’ pool with them. Two weeks ago, they were down playing basketball and riding bikes together and now this.
“I’m trying to stay out of it.”
Tricia Knight and Bailey’s wife, Vickie Bailey, agreed they were both friends since the Knights moved in about two years ago.
The families have made repeated trips to Chuck E. Cheese’s together, Vickie Bailey said.
And both agreed that while their children were fast friends, the youngsters also fight.
“Kids don’t always get along. I would be a liar if I told you my kids weren’t brats, too,” Tricia Knight said.
Vickie Bailey said she is heart-broken over the bickering. She said she didn’t call deputies because the Knights had already called deputies to their homes, and she hoped the issues would be resolved.
“I love those guys. I still do,” she said. “But this needs to stop.”