Teen sentenced for painting swastikas in school, threatening administrators

Published 12:30 pm Friday, July 1, 2022

CASSOPOLIS – A Cassopolis teen who painted swastikas inside Marcellus High School and threatened two school administrators will have to write letters of apology and a 25 page essay on the evils of the Holocaust.

The teen, 18, pleaded guilty to making an intentional threat to commit violence and was sentenced Friday in Cass County Circuit Court to one year probation under the Holmes Youthful Training Act and ordered to pay $1,365 in fines and costs. The HYTA designation means that he can keep the charge off his record if he is successful on probation.

Cass County Circuit Judge Mark Herman also ordered the teen to write letters of apology to High School Principal Lynn Wagner and Dean of Students Don Price. The teen must also write a 25 page essay on the evils of the Holocaust and state the number of Jews and Americans who died in World War II to eradicate the swastika symbol.

The incident occurred Feb. 23 at Marcellus High School in Marcellus when school officials found graffiti including swastikas on bathroom stalls after the teen was seen entering the restroom. That incident was preceded by others including the teen drawing a picture of Price being shot in the head and calling Wagner “a scummy jew”, Judge Herman said.

The teen apologized for their actions but told the judge that the incidents occurred after “years and years of being treated unfairly” by staff members. They said they had been targeted and picked on and took those actions out of frustration, including from being suspended from playing in his last high school football game.

“You need to look in the mirror,” Judge Herman said. “The bathrooms were closed because of your actions and it was your fault you couldn’t play in that football game. There is no place in a civilized society for swastikas, death threats and anti-semitic rhetoric.”

“Your generation doesn’t know or appreciate what a swastika meant,” he added. “My uncle died in that war (World War II) and my wife’s uncles fought in that war to eradicate that symbol. It’s a symbol of hatred and cowardice. If I could send you to see what life was like in those concentration camps, maybe you’d sing a different tune.”

“That (the swastika) is a symbol of hatred, pure and simple,” he said. “They survived more than you are ever capable of surviving. If you can’t see that, you will be in for a rude awakening. You felt upset you couldn’t play in a football game or use a bathroom, do you know what they endured and what they suffered?”

“Using that symbol is unacceptable,” he added. “Do you know how many young men died in that war and you had the audacity to use that symbol. You think it’s a funny symbol. You’ve made some positive changes and gotten your diploma but my concern is that you don’t know enough about what that means.”