3 teens face charges after student attacked at Liberty High School, Osceola deputies say

Video surfaced showing the victim, 16, being punched in the face, deputies say

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Three teens face battery charges after video surfaced of a student getting punched in the face at Liberty High School on Oct. 22, Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez addressed at a Tuesday night news conference.

Investigators said they first became aware of the attack on Oct. 27. A staff member at the school said that she received video of a 16-year-old student being punched in the face outside of the bathroom at the school, records show.

[TRENDING: 3 residents of The Villages arrested for casting multiple votes in 2020 election | 🔓Here’s your chance to win Garth Brooks concert tickets | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]

In the video, the victim states that he does not want to fight as at least two other students, including the one that punched him, follow the victim down the hall, taunting him, according to deputies.

According to the affidavit, the boy seen punching the victim admitted to the attack, claiming the victim had been “talking trash” about him.

The victim said he had also been punched in the bathroom prior to the attack in the hallway, investigators said. The boy said he did not report the incident out of fear he would be attacked again, records show.

“There’s always two sides of the story,” said Lopez, whose deputies investigated the incident back in October, but is taking to the stage now after parent concerns swelled when the video recently went viral. “That’s why we’re letting the state attorney look at this and review all documents and make sure that they make the accurate call ... because they are juveniles and you’re going to have juveniles fight.”

Lopez said he’s seen a lot of fights at Liberty High School, which he deemed “a tougher type of school.”

“If (it’s) a fist fight, it’s a fist fight. But as long as this bullying is not escalating to a point where a child is going to go home and get a gun, like we saw in Michigan,” Lopez said.

The students facing charges are 16, 17 and 18 years old respectively. Each face a charge of battery and all three have been suspended from Liberty High School.

In response to the incident, the Osceola Sheriff’s Office and Ashley Cariño, 2021′s Miss Florida, are teaming up to spearhead an anti-bullying campaign, presenting a video introducing the initiative in every school throughout the district.

“We want to ensure that everyone knows that schools have a zero tolerance to bullying,” said Cariño, who is also a University of Central Florida aerospace engineering student. “I myself was a victim to bullying growing up. I experienced emotional abuse, from name-calling to pushing, and it escalated to physical abuse.”

Lopez said it’s also important for parents to identify whether their child is a bully.

“(As a parent), you got to always take that time to give, you know, that little five to ten minutes of the day, if you can, to your child. Even call them or text them and make sure everything’s okay. Because, you know, sometimes they stay silent and they they’re afraid of repercussions from other people,” Lopez said. “But if you’re a parent and you have a child who is a bully, if something like that is brought to your attention, you really need to take action and start nipping that in the bud because it’s only going to get worse and you (can) really affect people’s lives until they’re adults.”

About the Authors:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.