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Federal Jury Clears Police
of Responsibility for Teen's Suicide


Heartbreaking Injustice Ignores Officer's Threat to 'Out' Youth

Marcus Wayman Put Revolver to His Own Face & Fired Twice

Compiled By GayToday

Allentown, Pennsylvania -- A federal jury cleared three small-town police officers Wednesday of allegations that they violated a teen's constitutional right to privacy by threatening to disclose that the teen was gay, causing him to commit suicide.

The American Civil Liberties Union and volunteer attorney David Rudovsky represented Madonna Sterling, the teen's mother, in the federal lawsuit and called the verdict a "heartbreaking injustice" in a statement released from James Esseks, Litigation Director of the ACLU's Lesbian & Gay Rights Project, which follows:

"More than four years ago, these officers threatened to tell Marcus Wayman's family that he was gay. He was released by the police at around midnight. Sometime before 6 a.m., he put a revolver to his face and fired. He missed, and fired again, killing himself.

"In the suicide note read in court this week, he said, 'I'm sorry grandpa, I found my future ... I won't let everyone's life be ruined by mine.'

"We will never know what would have become of Marcus Wayman. We can never begin to understand his mother's grief. Somehow, she found the extraordinary courage to come forward to hold these officers accountable.

"A year ago this week, Mrs. Sterling's lawsuit secured a landmark appeals court decision on the right to privacy for lesbians and gay men. That new precedent is already helping countless teens nationwide, and it will continue to. This week, we sought justice for Mrs. Sterling and her son.

"Tonight the officers were cleared of all charges. This is a heartbreaking injustice. Public officials have a duty to protect and serve everyone, including lesbians and gay men. Rather than 'first do no harm,' these officers directly contributed to a young man's death.

"Sometimes we win cases; sometimes we don't. Rarely is the pain of losing as profound as it is tonight. We grieve all over again for Marcus Wayman, for his mother and for gay people across America.

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:
'Teen Suicide' Trial Underscores Blaming of Police

Savage Attack on Moroccan Teen Mistaken for Lesbian

Teen Gets Anti-Gay Slur Carved into Stomach

Related Sites:
American Civil Liberties Union

ACLU's Rural Gay Program
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"For so many people who share in this loss and wonder what can be done: Get involved to help gay youth. Volunteer with an LGBT youth group. Give your skills, your time or your money to groups that help families and youth understand sexual orientation. Help get schools, police stations and others to conduct training on handling anti-gay harassment. Let that, not a misguided jury verdict, be the legacy of this family."




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