'Wolf pack' arrested in Upper Darby teen-bullying case

Posted: February 01, 2011

THE CELL-PHONE video confiscated by Upper Darby police lasts only seven minutes, but to 13-year-old Nadin Khoury, it was the longest seven minutes of his life.

In a Jan. 11 bullying incident that led to six arrests yesterday, teenage boys can be seen dragging Nadin across the snow-covered ground like a deer carcass, then jamming him upside down into a tree.

His screams for mercy only emboldened the seven students of Upper Darby High School's Opportunity Center, or "thugs," as Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood called them yesterday as they were being processed on kidnapping and assault charges.

"Seven on one," Chitwood said yesterday. "That's a wolf pack."

The student holding the camera phone laughs maniacally as Nadin falls from the tree and attempts to escape by running through the Park Lane East apartment complex. They chase him down - then use his coat to hang his limp body on a 7-foot-high spiked fence post.

"The back of his head could have went into that spear-like top of the fence," Chitwood said. "He could have been impaled."

Outraged by the incident, Upper Darby police brass responded yesterday morning by sending officers to the Opportunity Center to arrest six of the alleged perpetrators, ages 13 to 17. They were hauled out in handcuffs and put in a police wagon. Police are searching for a seventh person they believe was involved.

"We've got to send a message to these kids, to these thugs," Chitwood said.

If students bully or threaten other kids, Chitwood said, "You're gonna take a hike in handcuffs and in a wagon."

Last night, Nadin and his parents, Eric and Rebecca Wright, saw the video for the first time when a Daily News reporter played it for them.

"Are you kidding me? Are you serious?" Rebecca Wright said, shaking her head in disbelief at what police are calling the most heinous case of bullying they've seen.

After about a minute, tears welled up in her eyes. "I can't watch it," she said. "I'm just speechless. What did he do to deserve it?"

Nadin, an aspiring Marine, said he didn't know what led his schoolmates to attack him.

"I was trying to escape and to get away from them," he said. "For the first two days, some parts of my body still hurt, but after that, I just got mad every time I thought about it."

Chitwood said the kids' decision to film the incident made it more disturbing, but not unusual, given the ease with which video can now be recorded and disseminated.

In December, the father of a 15-year-old Roxborough High School freshman said three students ripped off his son's pants and dragged him across the locker-room floor. Photos were reportedly captured by a cell phone.

"Our assumption is that it would wind up being on YouTube," Chitwood said of the Upper Darby case. "That's what they all do."

The six students didn't have anything to say as they were led out of the Upper Darby police station, handcuffed to each other, and taken to the Delaware County Juvenile Detention Center.

"I grew up in an era when it was one on one," Eric Wright said. "Now, kids think they got something to prove. They all want to be a gangster."

"I don't know how much punishment they can give them. I just want them to stop doing what they're doing. They should be able to control what's inside them," Rebecca Wright said. "I want the word to get out there that it's not right."

Something else isn't right: Nobody at the Upper Darby apartment complex where the beating occurred contacted authorities, despite Nadin's yelling at the top of his lungs.

"He's screaming for his life and no one calls us," said police Capt. George Rhoades.

Chitwood added, "In broad daylight and nobody called 9-1-1. Yet people will state that the cops are never around. Crime is a community problem, and if the community doesn't care enough about what's going on in their community, how are we going to do anything?"

Nadin reported to his mother what happened, and she notified police.

"I was surprised nobody called police" at the apartment complex, Nadin said.

Upper Darby School District spokeswoman Dana Spino declined to comment, but she said district officials worked with police on the investigation.

"We've always addressed bullying and had active anti-bullying campaigns in all of our schools," Spino said.

Rebecca Wright said the Opportunity Center's principal called her yesterday and told Nadin to stay home today for his own protection.

Sitting in his living room last night, Nadin acted as though he's ready to move on, although he admitted that he wants his schoolmates "to pay for what they did." He said his long-term plan is to study architecture, "If I leave the Marines."

Asked why he wanted to join the Marine Corps, he quickly responded: "I like to help people."

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