Elections 2012: Mitt Romney Apologizes for Gay Bullying In Prep School

Mitt Romney, presumptive US Republican presidential nominee, has apologised for school “pranks” after a report he bullied a classmate thought to be gay.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney apologized on Thursday for what he called high school pranks that may have hurt others, after a report that he and other students at a Michigan school bullied a student who was presumed to be gay. Photo: Matt Johnson/Flickr

The Washington Post reported that in 1965 Mr Romney was bulluing a fellow student who was presumed to be gay.

The Post interviewed Romney’s five former classmates about his time as a student at the Cranbrook School outside of Detroit, Michigan. They confirmed that Romney set on John Lauber, a boy one year below him.

“They came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground,” the article said, “As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors.”

Phillip Maxwell, a lawyer and childhood friend of Romney, who said he was in the dorm room when the incident occurred, said: “It was a hack job. It was vicious.”

Thomas Buford, another of the friends and a retired prosecutor who volunteered for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, admitted helping restrain the boy.

“It happened very quickly, and to this day it troubles me,” he said.

Mitt Romney said in response to the article: “They talk about the fact that I played a lot of pranks in high school. And they describe some that you just say to yourself, back in high school I just did some dumb things and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by it, obviously I apologize.”

“I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school and some might have gone too far and for that, I apologize,” he added.

“The people involved didn’t come out of the closet until years later,” Romney noted. “The idea that this is something that was known by me … is obviously absurd. I had no idea that this person might have been gay.”

“I don’t remember that incident and I’ll tell you I certainly don’t believe that I, I can’t speak for other people of course, thought the fellow was homosexual,” he said.

“That was the furthest thing from my mind back in the 1960s, so that was not the case. But as to pranks that were played back then, I don’t remember them all, but again, high school days, if I did stupid things, why I’m afraid I got to say sorry for it.”

Gay rights have become a national issue in recent days, tells BBC, when President Barack Obama confirmed on Wednesday that he personally supports the idea of same-sex marriage.

Earlier on Sunday Vice-President Joe Biden expressed that he supports same-sex marriages.

At the same time, Mitt Romney has a mixed record on the issue during his time as governor of Massachusetts.

During his gubernatorial campaign he defended some gay rights. He has even been attacked in the past by the Christian conservative base of his own party for being too moderate, so Romney has come out firmly against same-sex marriages and civil unions.

According to The Telegraph, Lauber, who was allegedly bullied by Romney and whose family said he never spoke of the incident, led a troubled life following his expulsion from Cranbrook.

He briefly lived in Britain while taking dressage lessons but later checked into a psychiatric hospital in Kansas. Lauber worked in combat zones in Bosnia and Iraq as a chef for civilian contractors and continued to dye his hair blond until his death from liver cancer in 2004.

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