Since When Are Death Threats Against a Gay Teen His Fault?

When Wisconsin high school junior Gregg Udulutch came out, two freshman girls began saying things like “Oh, look, there goes the fag” as he passed them in the hallway. He reported them to a school official who eventually placed the girls on probation and the harassment stopped for a week or two. Then on the night of April 16th a truck and car began encircling Udulutch’s home and he received a call saying, “Do you think you’re going to get away with talking about my girls? We’re going to find you, we’re going to cut you, we’re going to kill you.” Udulutch reported it to the police. Their response? Police Chief William Riesterer called Udulutch into the school office, accused him of toilet papering the two girls’ houses, yelled at him for making a big deal out of “normal high school stuff,” and blamed the harassment on Udulutch.

Udulutch says he has heard stories about people who report harassment and have no one take it seriously until the harassed person gets hunted down and killed. Either that or bullying victims end up killing themselves instead of living in constant fear and humiliation. And while Udulutch says a completed school investigation will yield consequences for the girls, neither Superintendent Deb Hunt nor Principal Ellen Bartling have said what kind. Another Valders High School students says no disciplinary action has taken place at all.

We hear often it’s the schools failing to protect gay students, but in this case it’s the Valders’ police who need some serious re-education. (Chief Riesterer insisted to a reporter “this is not, in my opinion, a newsworthy story.”) Valders Sheriff Rob Hermann said that his department didn’t follow up on Udulutch’s initial report of phone harassment because “deputies don’t have time to call back after investigating every complaint.” Even murderous ones against teens.

But even California courts take violent threats from teenagers seriously; it’s time police, even in small Wisconsin towns, start doing the same. It’s ridiculous the chief could go to Udulutch’s school, presumably hear about his harassment at the hands of these girls, and conclude it was somehow Udulutch’s fault. At the very least, the students in question should have been sternly warned about the seriousness of this case; the school should have in place a gay-straight alliance and an anti-bullying policy; and parents should be briefed on the ramifications of bullying and their responsibility in fighting it.

If not, they could very well end up with a dead teen on their hands, whether through violence or, if the taunts are truly terrible, suicide. And no town wants to be another statistic.

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    Chief Riesterer insisted to a reporter “this is not, in my opinion, a newsworthy story.”

    However a very newsworthy story should be his immediate removal from his position for failing to fufill the oath of his office………….

  • Mark Alexander

    I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to learn the Chief of Police’s own teenagers are behind it.

  • robert

    Slight misrepresentation of the story: Udulutch wasn’t accused of “…toilet papering the two girls’ houses.”, the chief said the harassment was “…in the same category as toilet-papering a house” (i.e. not important).

  • Jon (the old one)

    Although this isn’t my experience from my rural Wisconsin in the northwest, it’s unfortunately typical from the eastern part of the state.

  • RobbyRaynebow

    As disgusting as this is. It’s the most common way of dealing with gay bashing that I’ve seen. I personally have been harassed for years in my school system and I quickly learned that the administrators really don’t care or aren’t going to jeopardize their position. Most of the time teachers will witness the harassment and tell the offender to stop, but then pull me aside and tell me that maybe if I tone it down or try to act a little more inconspicuous, then I will be more tolerated. I really hate to see just how often this goes on, but I personally don’t see much of an end in sight. As a high school student, you see the great programs that the schools set up, the seminars they hold where people get a little teary-eyed, and the laws that are passed to try and help make things better for gay teenagers. You also see very little being followed through upon and that these things are simply good publicity for a school with a problem.

  • Brad

    Just FYI – this is actually in Valders, WI (not Vaders). You can check out their website and see that Riesterer is the police chief. You can email them your opinion at [email protected].

  • Jenna

    @robert: No, the police chief did accuse him of toilet papering. According to the article:

    According to Udulutch, Riesterer told him the homes of the girls who had been harassing him had been toilet-papered, and he asked whether Udulutch knew who had done it. When he said he didn’t, Riesterer accused him of lying, he said.

    Udulutch said the officer also told him the harassment was his fault because his friends confronted the girls and that it’s all normal high school stuff and he needs to grow up and get over it. Riesterer put the threatening phone calls in the same category as the toilet-papering, according to Udulutch.

  • Brad

    I’d also copy the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police President Kurt Heuer on anything you email to the valders “police” department. He can be reached at [email protected].

  • Cam

    I wonder how the police and school would have reacted if the girls were taunting black students by calling them the N word, or if they were continually taunting other girls saying they were going to kill them because they were fat. My guess is, that the police would at least have returned those victims calls.

    Additionally, isn’t it funny that the police cheif seemed to get so upset and was yelling at the kid for supposedly toiletpapering those girls houses? Did he yell at the girls for their harrassment or is his yelling only reserved for gay kids?

  • jeffree

    I think we now know how much effective diversity training has been conducted at the Valders police department !

    I hope the school district realizes this has made it into national media, and they’re lookin pretty bad…..

  • Hilarious

    @Cam: They would’ve reacted the same exact way.

    You are aware that black students in middle states around the country are being put behind bars for years for things that other students would only get a slap on the wrist for right?

    This is why the black comparison doesn’t work.

    Getting told that these problems aren’t a “big deal” in those states isn’t a gay only issue.

    I was brought up in Virgina, got in fights in school, and they handled it the same way for all students in my area. Black or white didn’t matter, you had the same penalty.

    Yet other states like Texas have been getting away with putting a black student in prison and a white student involved in the same fight gets sent back home to his or her family.

    So please drop the “What if they were black!” mantra. It doesn’t have wings.

    If this kid was black he’d probably have been dragged behind a truck by now with no story to speak of until after he was a corpse and the case totally unsolved. So there’s your answer.

  • PopSnap

    It is weird how different small towns can be from even neighboring communities. For example, in my hometown where I grew up (a Northeast Ohio town of about 50,000) we have an openly gay councilman, two gay bars, and even a gay pride parade. I have never heard of a single gay hate crime taking place. The school I go (went; just graduated) has two gay teachers, one of whom is the coach of the 120-strong speech team and is incredibly popular with students. I was openly gay for all 4 years, and knew about 9 other kids who were (in a school of 1,200). Never once was I picked on, I had around 5 close friends, and even openly dated guys, as well. No problems at all.

    When I added a kid my age off of Myspace about a year ago, and asked him if he was out yet, he responded with a terrified NO! I’D GET KILLED BEING OUT HERE! He lived in a small farming town about 15 minutes to the south of me, about a tenth of the size of my hometown. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing- the one kid that was gay had gotten beaten up so badly that he was sent to the hospital?!

    My heart goes out to all teens growing up gay in small towns, and I am very thankful of how lucky I am.


    @PopSnap: Dude, you lived in a Gay utopia! Kudos to you and your peers for not adhering to most of the small town vile crap hate tossed at the Gays. Nice to hear that despite all that drama Gay teens face in most small towns that there are bright spots on a usually pretty dreary canvas…………

  • Revemupman

    “When Wisconsin high school junior Gregg Udulutch came out, two freshman girls began saying things like “Oh, look, there goes the fag” as he passed them in the hallway”

    This is where the situation gets tricky for a male. Women are surrounded around so much political correctness thats is nearly impossible to prove that 2 girls were picking on you as a male. This is exactly what I’m talking about when you have a culture of protected women and children. WHAT HAPPENED TO US MALES?

    I’ve seen this happen in 3D when I was in high school. A bull dyke girl was clowning a feminin black gay boy who was out. I kept saying in my head. YOUR ON THE SAME FUCKING BOAT AS HIM. There is no unity in this LGBT community. I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t even trust your own community to give you a hand period.

    What is the this piece that holds masculinity at such a supiorior status? That most women either envy to have it, or vilify it all together.

  • Daniel

    @robert: No, if you read the linked article it says that the two freshman girls who harassed Udulutch claimed to have had their houses toilet papered and to have received threatening phone calls as well. True? Maybe. Suspicious? Definitely.

  • Daniel

    @Jenna: Oh, sorry didn’t realize she had already pointed this out.

  • ossurworld

    Look into the Chief’s bank account. He’s been paid off.

  • Ogre Magi

    Anyone got the number of that police dpt? I would like to give them a piece of my mind!

  • SaveYourSoul_WorshipTheFlyingSpaghettiMonster

    Well, if they do end up with a dead teen on their hands, I hope it’s one of the homophobes who accidentally falls on a knife.

  • james_from_the_great_city_of_cambridge

    @Brad: Thank you for the info Brad. I emailed the police chief and cc’d the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police the following letter; hope it does some good but I’m betting I’m simply going to get a nasty, anti-gay email back from some anonymous server. I put in the subject headline that this was a national news story, hoping against hope that this will embarrass the shit out of these fucking rednecks.

    “To: Police Chief William Riesterer
    Re: Gregg Udulutch Case

    I read about the Gregg Udulutch case on Google News and felt I had to write to you to ask that you please take harassment cases like his more seriously, as you would if he was Black or Hispanic and being harassed because of his race. Gay kids like him have a much higher rate of suicide than non-gay teens and whatever your beliefs on the morality of homosexuality, I’m sure your town doesn’t want a kid to harm himself or herself as a result of such nasty, ongoing harassment. Please do the right thing and protect ALL your citizens equally. Thank you.

    -James M******
    Concerned Citizen of Cambridge, MA.”

  • jeffree

    I attended highschool in a semirural small town that’s hard to find on a map unless you got really good eyes.

    We had a *very* strict no-bullying policy. We couldnt call anyone words like “fattee” or “moh-ron” even if they were obese or stoopid. The principal sent letters out every year to parent explaining the rules & consequences for breaking them.

    Some parents didnt agree with all that, but once their kid was sent to the principals office, they got called at work to come to school, they realized she meant business.

    Yeah sure some mean stuff got said, but we knew that if we got into trouble at school mom or dad or legal guardian would have to miss work to meet with the principal. That caused big problems at home, Some of us did that once but nobody did it twice !!

  • Hilarious

    @Cam: And that means that black teens aren’t being sent to prison for things that other students get tried as minors and sentenced to community service for?

    The articles are there. Google them.

    If you can google someone getting fired for using a slur then you’re more than capable of finding the many articles of black teens having their lives ruined.

    I’ll get the ball rolling for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaquanda_Cotton

    And yes she is from Texas.

    Like I said gay people don’t have a monopoly on hate. Plenty of people are getting more than their fair share, including black people. So the ridiculous comparison doesn’t fly.

    There’s absolutely no reason to compare the two, yes there are minor similarities, but you can’t compare a group as diverse at the “gay community” to a single group of people since the “gay community” is full of many groups of people with different colors and backgrounds.

    I rest my case.

  • Shade

    Ok the race thing, it’s probably not accurate to say “I bet they would take this seriously if he were black.” Do we really think there is no racial intolerance in the Wisconsin justice system?

    Cant we just say “We hope the police take these threats very seriously, just as we hope they would if the student were getting harassed because of his race.” Isn’t that a lot healthier?

    Good for him for sticking up for himself and yes the police need to take death threats very seriously. Would these cops tell their own children to calm down if they had strangers saying they were going to cut them?

  • Mike

    Lets remember, we all have equal rights; and as long as we don’t ask the authority figurines for them they’re ours for the asking.

  • jeffree

    A bully picks on others because s/he gains credability from people who they think can’t physically or verbally stick up for themselves. When a bully faces some one who can take them down thru words or physical strength they will back off.

    The sad truth is that kids who look or act different because they are poorer, weaker or dont fit the popular idea of how they should act, those kids need to learn to defend them selves i wish wish wish that wasnt the case, but it’s true.

    My dad taught me early on to “immobilize” an attacker. He is a man of peace, but he sure as ef knew how to figght if he had to.

    You pretty much only need to bruise a couple ribs a little before that bully picks on another person. Bruise another couple of its ribbs and that bully ends its career as a bully.

    Easy enough, but it’s still neccessary advice !

  • Mikenstl


    I agree with you that the “Gay community” is a diverse bunch, but I hardly think that there is a single monolithic “Black community”. The Black community is also an extremely diverse group of individuals, coming in all shades, ethnicities, socio-economic levels and religions.

  • Michael

    I lived in a very small town 2 years ago and when, for the 3rd time someone said I’d get beaten up for being gay, and he’d be the one doing it if his brother wasn’t a homosexual, I tried filing a report with the police. Let me put it this way, if the gay bashing had happened they would have known well in advance and would have even been the main instigators. Some policemen only become police because they have no other idea on how to be a real man and beating up fags, albeit to hide their own queerness, is on their list of “how to prove you’re something more than just a cowardly loser”.

  • Michael

    Don’t let being gay overshadow the need to stand up for yourself, starting with freshman females. Looking to others as a crutch is a guaranteed world of disappointment.

  • Cam

    @Hilarious: Said..

    No. 23 · Hilarious
    @Cam: And that means that black teens aren’t being sent to prison for things that other students get tried as minors and sentenced to community service for?

    Your comment has nothing to do with our origional discussion. I said that I had a feeling that if a kid was being harrassed because of race, or gender that the police would have taken it more seriously. You said nothing would happen any differently in places like TX. I provided a link that showed you a teachers aide was fired for using a racial slur in TX. and now out of the blue you are trying to claim that I am saying something about minority kids not having their own problems.

    Stick to the issue at hand. My first comment holds, this is an article about a gay kid being harrassed.

  • Mark Snyder

    His story mirrors mine in so many ways. I’m glad this is being shown. So often I hear people talk about how everything is better for our youth today, but young people across this country still face extreme violence and isolation.

  • Dawson

    Its Wisconsin, what do you seriously expect? One thing you learn about being gay in an are where no one likes gays is to not makes waves. Not making waves becomes a survival mechanism. I’m not remotely saying its fair, but sometimes you need to grin and take it until you can move away from the area and never look back. These areas have been the same way since they were founded. You aren’t going to change them.

  • Hilarious

    @Cam: Somehow it’s no longer the original discussion when you’ve been proven wrong.


  • Kev C

    @Dawson: Um no, that BS. Every large oppressed social group in the US managed to gain acceptence, respect, power and success by forming gangs for protection. Irish, italians, jews, blacks, russians, hispanics, etc. When threatened, a business would be vandalized, a car would be burned, a pet would disappear, etc. That’s what needs to be done.

  • Kelehe


    “Its Wisconsin, what do you seriously expect? One thing you learn about being gay in an are where no one likes gays is to not makes waves.”

    So, just lay low, hide…then when your big chance comes…break out…run to where everyone will accept you. In the mean time, just shut up and don’t get all uppity thinking you have any civil rights, let alone human rights.

    “They” aren’t going to change if no one stands up.

  • Michael

    I’m sorry, but he’s going to have to develop some backbone and self-esteem if he plans to make it – anywhere. And what a minor problem. What would he do if he was straight and ugly and two little girls said, “here comes the ugly guy.” Run to the principal? Call the police? Hide? High school is a day at the beach compared to what follows, sexuality notwithstanding. Relying on other people to fight your battles is a guaranteed path to subservience.

  • Cam

    @Hilarious: Said..

    “”No. 33 · Hilarious

    @Cam: Somehow it’s no longer the original discussion when you’ve been proven wrong.


    Lets see, you misread a comment, create your own discussion then answer your own question that has nothing to do with my original comment. Nothing was proven except your inability to see outside your own perception.

  • James In San Diego

    [email protected]
    [email protected]

    Email those two email address voicing your concern! If you have facebook twitter etc, spread the email addresses and news stories until we get this asshole removed from power. ALL THREATS NEED TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY ALL THE TIME, remember the story about the boy who cried wolf? There were TWO lessons in that story not one. Not only do you need to not cry out when nothing is wrong, but when you start to not take it seriously….sheep get eaten.

    Backwater freakin bumpkins…

  • Kev C

    @James In San Diego: Remember that every cop has a boss. Complaining to a cop is meaningless. Filing a complaint about a cop will get results.

  • Tim Brown

    I feel the best way to fight these ignorant people is to NOT let them hide and spew their hate anonymously. Bring them into the light and make them face up to the evil things they do. I find it unethical that the article gave the name of the young gay man being tormented but not the names of the tormentors. Why do they deserve anonymity? These bigots are the scum of the earth and need to be shown for what they are.

  • FlopsyMopsyCT

    What surprises me is the complete lack of concern by school officials in regard to the fact that this situation is going on. For sure there are instances of “boy will be boys” and bitchy girls doing their thing, but what kind of school categorizes that kind of language and taunting as “kids just being kids?” This is something that I’ve had real problems with, especially when the the Alameda School district was trying to implement diversity education for homosexuals in their schools. Kids don’t have a right to go around being jerks to one another, even in the public schools. The school needs to kick those two insensitive girls out. I don’t understand why people who refuse to abide by community standards don’t receive some kind of reprimand. I realize the girls were scolded, but apparently that wasn’t enough. Kick these stupid kids out, suspend them, expel them. Uphold school standards. Good god this is unrelentlessly ridiculous. Quite frankly, I can see the police departments reluctance to deal with the harassment issue. Threats are wrong, but you can’t blame a police officer for not wanting to envelop himself in the affairs of high-schoolers. Of course if it becomes a more precarious situation that potentially could harm the boy, I think the police should involve itself, but at the level it is right now, it’s probably not a concern big enough to involve public officers.

    Truly, I think this problem needs to be solved at the school level. Let these jerks know that their behavior is unacceptable and wont be tolerated in a civil community. If anything, I think the website and e-mail address/number of the school should be posted. I’d have a few things to say to that principle.

  • Joe Blow

    How dare the author of this story infringe on the civil rights of the girls involved. Some people are rightfully offended by homosexual activity. How about being tolerant of their feelings, or have the Nazis taken over??? Maybe these girls should be taken away for some sort of homo re-education……

  • Joe Blow

    Also, what about the rights of all the other boys who have to be in the shower and locker rooms with this boy-lover? What about their rights, feelings of safety, and right to be free from sexual ogling or harassment?

  • Soupy

    What are you doing on a gay blog Joe?

  • old educator

    The attitude of the officer is from the information the school principal gave him. No, his kids are grown, but they never would have done this. The info is from the local papers, and by law if the accused are under a certain age (they were freshmen) the names cannot be released. The victim (yes, he was a victim of the girls and of the principal) went to the local newspaper himself, therefore allowing his name to become public.

    Update fall 2011: The administrator has moved onto yet another district. In her final year, several senior boys were allowed to target other boys concerning sexuality…with no consequences. Teachers were told to handle it themselves, she didn’t want to hear about it. It is her hangup. Some students even pretended to be gay just to prove the point that she discriminated. They succeeded. She left, MUCH better one in place (former teacher.)

    Small town schools in ALL of Wisconsin (‘scuse me, there are a couple in the NW that are not gems…) can be great or crappy, depending on the administrators and the parents that are deemed “the royalty.”

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