Homophobic Attackers Who Blinded Teen Face Judge. Is Their Punishment Enough?

Kardin Ulysse, the 14-year-old boy set upon by classmates who called him homophobic slurs as they pummeled him senseless, wasn’t on hand to hear his attackers get arraigned on Friday. He was busy having corneal surgery to save his right eye.

It’s his fifth surgery in a month.

In June, a pair of students at Roy H. Mann Junior High in Brooklyn, New York, saw Ulysse wearing a wig as a joke and immediately set upon the eighth-grader. One held his arms while the other punched his face, neck and head as they called him names like “fucking faggot,” “pussy,” transvestite” and “gay.” Ulysse escaped, but the fight continued in the cafeteria until school officials stepped in.

The two boys, 13 and 14, pleased not guilty to charges of assault as a hate crime—the maximum sentence they can receive is 18 months in a juvenile facility. They would face considerably more jail time under the hate crime statute if they were adults.

Ulysse’s parents, who are suing the city for $16 million for not providing sufficient school security, believe the teens’ punishment is too lenient: “These are not children,” says Pierre Ulysse. “They’re animals. Unfortunately I can’t do to them what I want to do.”

Taking someone’s eyesight does seem to merit a biblical punishment, but these kids are barely teens. Should it have been a harsher—or longer—sentence?