In what may be a classic case of CYCA (insert “child’s” into usual abbreviation), the parents of the young teen involved in what many call an attempted lynching in Claremont, N.H., have spoken out, saying that their son is innocent of racially taunting and trying to hang an 8-year-old boy from a tree.
Going on record for the first time, Eric Sullivan, 33, and Rhianna Larkin, 32, spoke to Newsweek and spun a completely different version of the events of Aug. 28 than the account the mother of the biracial child gave when she spoke with The Root.
Larkin said that it was all fun and games and a “complete backyard accident,” and that her son doesn’t even know what a “racial taunt” is.
Larkin told Newsweek that her 13-year-old son was watching his friend climb a tree after they had all put ropes around their necks, and turned around and saw the 8-year-old “standing on the picnic table.”
“Not thinking that he had a rope around his neck. [My son] said [the 8-year-old] was wearing a hoodie at the time, and [my son] was looking at him from behind, and couldn’t see anything,” she said. “He thought he was just standing up there. So he said he thought in his mind, ‘Oh, this is going to be really funny, I’m going to jump up behind him and scare him so he jumps off.’ So [my son] jumped onto this bench, and jumped on to the opposite end of the table where he was. And then [my son] went ‘GGGGRRRR’ and [the boy] jumped.”
She also said that her son was in tears when he saw what had happened and “said he couldn’t apologize enough.”
Since the story has gone viral, Sullivan and Larkin say their family’s life (they are separated) has been “hell,” and that Larkin has had adults come up to her and hit her, and that she’s received death threats on social media.
They said that their son doesn’t even know what a “racial slur” is and that perhaps the 8-year-old was confusing him with another little boy who does know what racial taunts are, and who was also there.
“The only thing I can think of is that [the 8-year-old] is confusing [our son] with one of the other little boys who was there,” said Sullivan. “[Our son] has never done anything like that; I’ve never heard him say anything about race at all.”
His mom co-signed: “I asked [my son] what a racial slur was and he said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘If you were going to say something to someone, what racial slur would you use?’ He said, ‘Mom, I don’t know what you’re talking about. What do you mean, what’s this all about?’”
She added, “We have plenty, plenty of people in our family that are not white. We’ve never had an issue with it.”
They also seemed to blame the 8-year-old boy’s mother and grandmother for having made this story up.
“I don’t think any of it is coming from [the boy],” Sullivan said. “I think it’s all coming from the grandmother and the mom. ... I was there when the cops questioned them, and there was no mention about any of this. [The boy] had the same story as the [teens].”
The latest in terms of prosecution is that New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has instructed the state attorney general’s office to send a team as needed to Claremont to “provide assistance” in the investigation.
The Claremont police chief initially said that the children accused needed to be “protected.”
Read more at Newsweek.