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Authorities: Teen Robbed, Assaulted Before Suicide

Several incidents occurred weeks before 15-year-old Lennon Baldwin's death on March 28, according to police.

Authorities say 15-year-old Lennon Baldwin, a freshman at , was the victim of an assault at the school, told to lie about it and then robbed in the parking lot .

Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi—flanked by First Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Zelante, County Prosecutor's Office Capt. Jeffrey Paul, Morristown Police Chief Peter Demnitz and Morris Township Acting Chief of Police John McGuinness—announced Wednesday the charges against two Morristown juveniles and 19-year-old Morristown resident Michael Conway for their alleged involvement in the incidents in early March. Some have said bullying led to Baldwin taking his own life.

According to Bianchi, Baldwin was allegedly assaulted at Morristown High School at approximately 11:30 a.m. on March 6 by one of the juveniles, whose name has not been made public due to his age. That alleged assault was captured on the school's surveillance system, Bianchi said, which led to the suspension of the juvenile identified in the video on March 8.

However, prior to the juvenile's suspension on March 8, the police investigation—a collaboration between the Morris County Prosecutor's Office, Morristown and Morris Township police departments—revealed the juvenile "made numerous attempts to contact Mr. Baldwin for the purpose of instructing him to go to the school administration and tell them that the incident which occurred on March 6 was a joke," Bianchi said.

Despite Baldwin reporting the incident as a joke to the school on March 7, the school continued its investigation and subsequently suspended the juvenile defendant the following day.

Then, on March 9, the investigation revealed Baldwin was met by the suspended juvenile, a second juvenile and Conway, in the Century 21 parking lot where Baldwin allegedly was robbed and told "it was punishment for what occurred at Morristown High School on March 6 and the resulting suspension of the juvenile for the alleged assault," Bianchi said.

This alleged incident has led to additional charges of one juvenile with theft and terroristic threats, and the other juvenile with conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit theft. Conway has been charged with false swearing for allegedly providing false statements to police and detectives of the Morris County Prosecutor's Office.

The two juveniles were sent to the Morris County Youth Detention Facility on March 22 and 23, and released to House Arrest on March 27, which remained in place as of the May 30 press conference, Bianchi said.

On March 28, Baldwin was found dead.

In the days following his death, . Several have noted Baldwin had been the victim of bullying, which led to his suicide.

The charges for the incidents that allegedly occurred earlier that month could carry up to 18 months in prison for Conway, the only adult. Bianchi said in juvenile cases, there is a wide berth for the judge based on what is in the best interests for the juvenile. That could mean nothing or incarceration, the prosecutor said.

Once county prosecutors conclude their investigation, Bianchi said Morris School District Superintendent Thomas Ficarra would begin his own investigation, which could potentially reveal more about the situation, including a deeper pattern of events between Baldwin and those that have been charged. "It would not be a surprise," Bianchi said. 

"Now that the initial phase of the criminal investigation is complete, the District will continue an internal review of this matter as it pertains to incidents at Morristown High School," . "This review will include an examination of all policies and procedures that deal with harassment, intimidation and bullying as well as an examination of the timely implementation of these procedures.

"This has been an unspeakable tragedy for the family and a difficult time for our entire community," the superintendent wrote.

"The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act," signed by Gov. Chris Christie and put into effect on Jan. 1, 2011, does not carry criminal weight, Bianchi said. But, what it does have is the ability to put the onus on school administrations to report potential bullying incidents to police. "We're being inundated, and that's a good thing," Bianchi said. "It's driving them to call law enforcement."

Though he would not directly call what had happened to Baldwin bullying, Bianchi said a number of the charges levied against the three individuals "perfectly and squarely fit in the definition of bullying."

He said an anti-bullying symposium was set for 6 to 8 p.m. June 28 at the Morris County Police Academy in Parsippany.

Before concluding the press conference, Bianchi implored any students that may know any more about these alleged incidents to contact police.

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Lennon Baldwin," Bianchi said. "Nothing we do will ease the pain or the tremendous loss to the family as well as the community at large."

Timothy A. Jackson May 30, 2012 at 10:00 PM
this should not be classified as "bullying". That is a complicated cliche that brings in far too many irrelevant issues. A crime was committed against a kid. Then the perpetrator wanted to cover himself by making the kid go along with it. When that didnt work, the perpetrator got some "enforcers" to intimidate the kid. This has no other name but Organized Crime. Take a look !
Timothy A. Jackson May 30, 2012 at 10:01 PM
There is that which seems good unto a man, but the end therof is death.
deborah serio May 31, 2012 at 06:36 AM
why is everybody so afraid to comment? the boys accused are black and we have silence when Trayvon was killed the world went insane I hadnt even heard about this suicide...people are nuts and cowardly...
Wake up! May 31, 2012 at 12:01 PM
This is more then bullying. This is a series of crimes; of harassment, robbery, intimidation, racism, physical assault.... What about the fear that this child had to live with and go to school with! He wasn't even safe off of school grounds! This 19 year old animal is he STILL in High school??? I don't know Lennon or his family or Morristown ... Every time I hear about this story it sickens me.
Cara DePalma May 31, 2012 at 12:46 PM
From what I have read, the police did a thorough investigation and charged the perpetrators appropraitely. This is bullying at an extreme. Lennon was clearly targeted and attacked over and over again by the same group of boys. I just hope that these boys are given a harsher sentence than house arrest. Two juvenile delinquents and an adult victimized Lennon, and deserve to be punished. Nothing will bring Lennon back or bring comfort to the family, but justice must be served.
Prentiss Gray May 31, 2012 at 01:56 PM
This is so tragic. I wish we had a system in place that did more than promise to punish the perpetrators. Our jails are full to overflowing and people like Lenny are still suffering every day. We need better solutions, it's a conversation that's way overdue.
Joanna Mills May 31, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Do not blame the school administration or staff entirely. The shared blame also rests with the other students of the MHS. THEY knew what was going on then and now and did NOTHING. THEY are hypocrites and cowards for not doing something then or coming forward now. THEY proclaim their generation to be tolerant, helpful, anti-bullying, etc. THEY speak the words but when it counts THEY do NOTHING! Why didn't THEY stand up for their fellow student? THEY will claim that they will be ostricized if they speak up then cry into their little "oh poor me" pillow. THEY are a sad lot but do not pity them, do not forgive them and don't for a minute let them fool you because right now THEY are busy texting each other (including those under arrest) and not looking in the mirror and accepting THEIR part in this horrible mess.
Cara DePalma May 31, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Wow, Joanna, how old are you that you think it's OK to blame a bunch of kids, many of whom are also being bullied? What about the adults and teachers who knew what happened? If adults aren't willing to come forward, you expect more from a 15 year old?
Joanna Mills May 31, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Cara, you really need to reread my first two sentences and take note of the words "entriely", "shared" and "also". In the meantime, ask yourself why some people always insist that those in authority, be it the police or school staff in this case, should have done more. More supervision, more counseling, more rules, more cameras, more whatever. Doesn't anyone realize that the best and most effective form of supervision/prevention always comes from within a group of people and not from the top down? How are most criminals caught? Because someone was brave enough to speak up, call in a tip, make a report to the police, stand up to the wrongdoer, and do what was right (this is what we teach kids isn't it?) and on this lesson MHS students have failed themselves and each other. If anyone wants to get really proactive - Pass a Straw Law for bullying and for those that stand by while someone is beaten to death on a subway flatform in front of them because tehy "don't want to get involved".
Susan Mueller June 01, 2012 at 05:22 AM
The ages of the bullies speak volumes... 2 17 year olds and a 19 year old torturing a 15 year old?!? to the extent hanging oneself was less torturous than living in fear. What the heck were they thinking? COWARDS!
Rich June 01, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Honestly, if you hadn't heard about this suicide, you simply don't follow the local news at all. Rather than spending your time blaming other people for not commenting on stories when you think you should, you may want to read more yourself.
Amy June 01, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I was saddened to hear about this young man's suicide. I am a graduate of MHS, over 25 years ago. I was recently back at the school for a swim meet and walked around the halls. It is so much bigger now with the addition, I thought to my self, how does the school know what is going on in the halls at all times? I guess they have cameras, but that is looked at after the assaults. The students who are not 18 should be tried as adults. I am sad that this happened at my alma mater.
anthony j. popola June 03, 2012 at 07:23 PM
afraid to comment...we live in a pc world...if these animals have to stand trial, sharpton,jackson and all that ilk will come out from under their rocks..more B.S.
Martatown June 04, 2012 at 04:29 PM
And to the parents of the delinquents...."oh he's a good boy" you say? Good is not defined by not being caught. Maybe if you'd pay attention a bit more to your kids you'd know what's going on in their lives. YOU should be the ones serving time in jail...as well as your offspring. Keep it in your pants if your not going to commit to raising your kids with respect and dignity for others.
John June 05, 2012 at 01:26 PM
It's a horrible feeling to think ending it all is a better alternative. Others on the other hand acquire guns and massacre who they deem not so innocent. We as parents are failing and using the schools and police as scapegoats. A fair fight is one on one, even sized, and ages similar. No matter what age, that happens to my kids, 24 and 21 and I get involved, and it won't be pretty. I take home and self defense very seriously.
anthony j. popola June 08, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Amen....
Don't blame others October 08, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Don't you blane the students of MHS. The student or the parents should have handled the issues better.

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